Developing Social Skills for the Transition Back to School
Worried about transitioning back to school after a year of online learning, isolation, and canceled extracurricular activities? LearningRx has some tips to help your student develop social skills to help them thrive this academic year:
- Look for opportunities to tour the school and attend grade-specific orientations before the start of the school year.
Helping them get familiar with their surroundings, especially if they are transitioning to high school or a new school, or haven’t been in the building physically in over a year, can help boost their confidence on the first day of school. If they know their schedule already, walk through the halls to each classroom to help them figure out the best route from their locker. Even locating where the nearest bathroom is to their classroom or locker can also help them feel more confident about returning to in-person learning.
- Depending on your student’s needs, you may want to enroll them in individual or group therapy to discuss their concerns about reintegrating into in-person classes.
Getting your student around others who may feel anxious about returning to school after a year and a half of changes and challenges can help them feel less alone in their stead. Reach out to your student’s school counselors to see if they know of groups or resources for students.
- Schedule “play dates” or sleepovers with friends they already know and trust—even if they won’t be attending the same school.
Socialization is a skill that helps us connect with others. And with every skill, when you don’t use it, you lose it. Help your student gain those skills back by scheduling time with trusted friends or family members. This time spent together will help your student feel reassured about social situations in the future.
- Sign them up for a fun workshop (e.g., painting, star gazing, pottery), or take them to a free movie night at the park, or to enroll in extracurricular activities at the start of school (e.g., theater, student council, intramural volleyball) to make friends organically.
Getting your student involved in an activity they enjoy can help them break out of their bubble. When we get out of our comfort zone and challenge ourselves to learn a new skill, our brains light up and gain a new understanding. Small group activities also allow us to make friends organically. Find activities that spark your student’s interest and get them signed up. You can reach out to your student’s schools to see what activities they have starting up or any afterschool programs they can join.
- Brainstorm conversation starters.
Your student may not know what to talk about with friends they haven’t seen in a while. Get together with your student about what they are most concerned about in conversation and help them come up with answers to questions they may get and or questions to rebuild old relationships. Here are a few to get you started.
“Did you get a new backpack? I like the water bottle pocket.”
“Did you like learning at home, or are you happy to be back at school?”
“Did you watch any new TV show while at home? If so, which one?”
The transition to in-person learning this fall may jolt your routine, but with these strategies, hopefully, this season will help you and your student get back to feeling “normal.”
What methods have you tried to make back to school easier socially?