How to Build Social Skills While Social Distancing
Updated: Jun 8
Now that we're all staying home you might be wondering how you can support your child’s pragmatic language development since he/she has no to limited interactions with his/her peers. Pragmatic language skills refer to our social language skills that we use daily when interacting with others such as non-verbal communication skills (e.g., eye contact, facial expressions, body language), turn taking, conversational skills, asking questions, responding to information, making relevant contributions to a topic, etc. Even
while we are social distancing from others, there are still several ways that you can support your child at home:
1. Play games that encourage turn taking. Turn taking is such an important skill for children to develop in order to effectively engage in social interactions and conversations with others. Some of my favorite turn taking games include Jumping Jack, Pop the Pig, Hi-Ho-Cheerio, Don't Break the Ice, and Headbandz.
2. Put a bunch of your child’s friends or family members' names in a hat and pull one out for a surprise phone call or video conference! For a younger child, you can use pictures instead of written names.
3. Have a virtual playdate on video conference. Plan in advance with one of your child’s friend’s caregivers and make sure both children have similar toys or books to engage with.
4. Have a virtual talent show on video conference. Have children/families prepare their talent in advance and then have a zoom conference for everyone to show off their skills and talk about each other’s performances.
5. Do a movement activity with a friend on video conference. There are so many online kids movement classes like GoNoodle or Karma Kids Yoga. Share your screen and do some yoga together!
6. Do show and tell on video conference. Have your child pick something special in the house and show it off to his/her friends.
7. Have a virtual "book club” on video conference and read a favorite book with friends.
8. Have a lunch or dinner date on video conference. Make the same meal and talk about what everyone is eating, what everyone likes, and what everyone dislikes.
9. Use Caribu with a family member or friend. Caribu is a video-calling app, initially created for grandchildren to be able to have virtual hangouts with their grandparents, that has children’s books and coloring activities that you can do together.
10. Send a friend or loved one something special. Create a picture or card to send in the mail. Talk about why you are making this person something special and how they might feel when they receive it in the mail.
11. While watching TV or reading a book, talk about the character's thoughts and feelings in relation to different problems that arise in the story. Make predictions together about what you think might happen next.
12. Engage in pretend play at home and take on the role of another person (e.g., working at a restaurant, playing doctor, etc.)
13. Spend meaningful technology free time with family. Given that our lives are so saturated with screens these days, take some time to engage in play with your child or have conversations without any distractions.