Friendships during the COVID-19 pandemic have been hard to maintain, especially for kids. The past year and a half of social distancing, mask-wearing, and school closures have made it harder than ever for kids to socialize with their friends and classmates. This is very concerning for educators and parents alike because socialization is a vital part of a kid's overall development.
We are finding that life is starting to fall into its new normal and kids are beginning to interact with their friends normally again, with this comes both excitement and anxiety. Back to school will be more stressful than normal for many kids this year. How do we help them connect with their friends again after over a year apart? Below you will find ideas on how to help kids connect with friends inside and outside of school in stress-free ways.
Use StickTogether As An Opening And Closing Activity
We are all anxious about getting back to school. Do you have your first day, first hour, or first 5 minutes of back to school planned yet? Getting started is typically the most stressful part! StickTogether is here to help you welcome your students back! We recommend setting aside 5-10 minutes at the beginning and ending of your instruction to welcome students, touch in with their emotional well-being, and nurture togetherness. This is ESSENTIAL as we welcome kids back to school.
One idea for using StickTogether as an opening and closing activity is asking students how they are feeling; having them reflect upon the past year; sharing any troubles they are having; or asking them any other questions you feel would be relevant that day, as they are working on the poster together. Check out our blog to learn more about how to use StickTogether as an opening and closing activity. It does make a world of difference for kids to have a stress-free moment reconnecting with their friends.
Get Kids Engaging With Each Other Through Scavenger Hunts
Working towards a common goal is a great way to make reconnecting with friends less stressful for kids. Have kids get out and enjoy the summer months with a scavenger hunt. You could have the scavenger hunt take place in your neighborhood, a park, or a nature preserve. Scavenger hunts are great for every age group and perfect for getting kids outside.
How about a neighborhood scavenger hunt? This can be an excellent way for kids to reconnect with their neighbor friends. One way to have a neighborhood scavenger hunt is to go door-to-door. Players tell the neighbor who answers the door that they are on a scavenger hunt. They then ask them for an item on their list. For more ideas check out this post from the Verywell Family.
Bring Back The Art Of Writing Letters To Friends.
Is your child more introverted or not quite ready to return to school this fall? Sending physical mail might be a more comfortable way to connect with their friends again. Kids can draw pictures or write letters and either mail the letters or drop them off in mailboxes.
For kids looking to make new friends, having a pen pal is a way to dip their toes in and get to know a new person or reconnect with a friend. Read more and find a great idea for a Pen Pal Box from Coffee and Carpool here.