School is out and summer is here! But that doesn’t mean that all learning and social skill development has to stop. In fact, without the hectic nature of the school year, and with more time spent outside with family and friends, children can use this season to focus more on how to communicate with others effectively. Here’s a list of what you can do to keep your child’s social skills fresh all summer long.
- Enroll in a Summer Activity
The most surefire way to get your child to participate in social activities with peers is to sign them up for a summer activity. Consider the variety of activities available near you: there may be sports, arts and crafts, nature programs, science classes, therapeutic programs, theater classes, social skills groups, etc. Choosing a program that caters to your child’s unique interests will make it easier for them to relate to their peers, and maybe even make some good friends.
- Offer Free Playtime
While it’s tempting to schedule every minute of your children’s summer break, it’s important to let them just be kids and have some free playtime. Free play creates an opportunity for children to explore their world in their own way and helps foster creativity and using their imagination. If you have two or more children, they can play together and practice cooperation. They may fight and argue, but as long as no one’s getting hurt, let them try and work it out together before intervening. If you only have one child, you can plan play dates with good friends or take them to meet new friends at the park.
- Screen Free Family Meals
It’s so easy for everyone to become engrossed in their devices, be it replying to work emails, checking your best friend’s most recent Instagram post, or building castles in Minecraft. Turn off your computers, put down your phones, turn off the TV, and incorporate regular screen free family meals into your summer schedule. Whether you do them daily, or once a week, gathering around a table together over a shared meal is an excellent way for everyone at the table to connect and talk about their summer activities. Who better to work on conversational skills with than family?
- Family Game Night
Group games are an excellent way for anyone to work on their social skills. You can play a cooperative game where everyone works together to achieve one goal such as a large puzzle, or you can play a competitive game as individuals or in teams such as a racing video game, charades, or pictionary. As you choose a game, keep in mind not just everyone’s ages, but abilities, interests, and the skills you seek to work on. Modeling appropriate camaraderie and sportsmanship is key.
- Family Movie Night
Screens aren’t all bad; sometimes they can be used for a shared experience too! Watching a movie together is a wonderful way to work on social skills together as a family. In fact, some streaming services even allow you to watch with family from afar, which is a wonderful way to include extended family into the mix.
Sitting together, sharing a big bowl of popcorn, laughing at jokes, screaming at scary moments, and crying at sad scenes are all a part of social-emotional growth. Engage in an age-appropriate conversation about the movie after. It can be as simple as sharing your favorite parts, or identifying how different characters felt throughout the film. Common Sense Media has some great tips for fostering impactful conversations.
Need some more ideas to foster your child’s social skills this summer? We’re ready to help you out year-round at Ready Set Connect. Reach out to us today!