Summer Slide and Your Child’s Social Skills
The “summer slide” can affect your child’s social skills as well as his academic skills.
You’ve probably heard of summer slide – the up to 30% loss of academic skills that many children experience over the summer school break. And, perhaps you’ve enrolled your child in summer academic enrichment programs like the SPARK Reading and Math Programs here at Child Success Center, to help keep your child’s academic skills sharp and ready for the fall school term. But you might not know that children can also experience summer slide when it comes to their social skills. Long term, this may be a more far-reaching issue that can hinder your child’s success as an adult.
A study published in 2015 explains that social skills observed in kindergarten showed significant correlation with well-being at age 25! Kindergarteners who were socially competent were more likely to graduate from high school, go to college, get a job and stay out of jail than those who exhibited a lower level of social competence.
Children tend to “grade” each other on their social competence. The child who just naturally is well endowed with social skills, makes friends easily, is outgoing and at ease around people may be rewarded with a higher level of status amongst his peers. The child that is shy or feels awkward and uncomfortable around people may get far lower “grades” from his peers that can result in a diminished sense of overall confidence and interfere with the child’s ability to attend and focus on the process of learning academics.
This can present a conundrum to parents who face school entry requirements weighing heavily on high academic achievement. Parents may opt to cut back on activities involving play and social interaction, and fill that time instead with additional academic endeavors. This scenario, coupled with the myriad digital opportunities for children to play and communicate, can create a detrimental imbalance in the development of the whole child. Fortunately, the school environment is one that not only teaches academics, but also provides various opportunities for children to learn to get along with other people, peers and leadership, and develop social skills. The feedback they get from these social interactions is vital to learning skills like how to play well with others, how to problem-solve, how to label and recognize feelings, how to be empathetic and helpful, how to control impulses, how to be a “we-thinker”, and how to use and understand verbal and non-verbal communication.
For many children, those social learning opportunities greatly diminish during the summer school break. Once out of the school environment and routine, children may spend more time alone or engaged in digital entertainment/communication, which research has shown may interfere with a child’s ability to recognize emotions in the people around them. It can become a slippery slide for a child from being a “we-thinker” to thinking in silo.
Social deficits can pose a lifelong problem, making it imperative that they be identified early and addressed, similarly to the approach that would be taken with a learning disability. Under the guidance of skilled pediatric occupational and speech/language therapists, children can learn through peer-to-peer experiences and roll playing, acquiring vital social skills in a fun, engaging, and active environment. Even those children who have exhibited social competency thus far can be greatly served by a summer program to help keep those skills sharp and prepare them with additional social skills tools that will cross over into academic learning success.
With all that modern technology has to offer, there is still nothing that can replace the gratification and lifelong effects of a successful and meaningful person-to-person encounter, and the learning that goes along with it.
Therapeutic Social Learning Options
This popular CSC program helps children develop confidence when taking the first steps toward reading, writing, attending to a new routine and making new friends. CSC’s huge gymnasium is turned into a fun learning camp with swings, a trampoline, a climbing wall and monkey bars to take children on an adventure while building up their kindergarten social skills.
Designed for children, ages 4.5 – 11, who are having a difficult time navigating the social landscape of the classroom or group setting and/or building and maintaining friendships. The small group environment of Friendship Club works well for the child who needs a structured social environment to strengthen and master communication skills.