Pandemic has affected students’ social interactions.

With empathy and innovative ideas, we can reintroduce students to social skills, writes Rishmita Naidu Kakal

Various studies have shown that a socially interactive environment helps children develop strong language skills, creativity, social intelligence, and self-confidence. Unfortunately, the pandemic has deprived youngsters of this growth.

Adverse impacts
While students mention or portray their feelings about missing school life, parents and guides have witnessed a reduction in their cognitive, emotional, social, and moral development. Their interactions have become limited to their immediate family and pets if they have any.

Social lives play a great role in one’s growth, particularly during childhood, which disappeared due to the pandemic. At this time, a child’s two primary sources of social connections, their neighbourhood and school, were taken away. Thus, toddlers missed out on activities taught in schools such as eating lunch with friends, playing, and inculcating values together.

Various studies have shown that a socially interactive environment helps children develop strong language skills, creativity, social intelligence, and self-confidence. Unfortunately, the pandemic has deprived youngsters of this growth.

Adverse impacts
While students mention or portray their feelings about missing school life, parents and guides have witnessed a reduction in their cognitive, emotional, social, and moral development. Their interactions have become limited to their immediate family and pets if they have any.

Social lives play a great role in one’s growth, particularly during childhood, which disappeared due to the pandemic. At this time, a child’s two primary sources of social connections, their neighbourhood and school, were taken away. Thus, toddlers missed out on activities taught in schools such as eating lunch with friends, playing, and inculcating values together.

Key growth areas
One of the key areas of growth is the formation of self-identity that starts from preschool years and continues till adulthood. With this growth, students can recognise and express their feelings, make well-informed decisions, deal with problems, and take responsibility for their actions.

Today, children across the world are suffering due to lack of social engagement, leading to a decline in social skills. A survey suggests that if you ask a youngster how he/she is feeling these days, most of them would respond as ‘bored’ and ‘lonely’. The online learning sector has acknowledged this problem and is focusing on extending classroom lessons for toddlers to the maximum extent possible.

However, it is natural to wonder whether kids will be able to socialise with virtual interactions. Parents and teachers have used a variety of strategies to encourage children to interact with their classmates. It has become a trend to have virtual playdates and send handwritten notes to friends. Schools are even considering bringing their traditionally on-ground festivities online.

In addition to textbook learning via online classes, educational institutions and parents need to make it their responsibility to include other skills in the curriculum. Various virtual tools allow children to join as a community to participate, learn, and create. Educators need to ensure a child’s social development by introducing innovative ideas for regular interactions and offering them secure venues to express themselves among peers.

Students easily adapt to changing situations. As adults, a vital aspect to consider is to establish a routine in a child’s life. It is essential to provide them with virtual options for socialising and fostering healthy discussions.

A child’s intellectual and motivational stability has been impacted but their mental health has also been affected. Students are adept at masking their feelings, which in turn may impact their overall mental and physical health. With some empathy and innovative ideas, we can reintroduce students to social skills.

(The author is school counsellor and ISC Psychology teacher, Jasudben ML School and Bloomingdales Pre-primary)

This article appeared in 

Education Times online portal on 22 nd January 2022 https://bit.ly/3G49wua

 

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