Social interactions through virtual settings present a challenge for educators, parents

Social interactions through virtual learning and early childhood development

MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (WMBF) - Many school districts turned to parents for input on the learning format they prefer for their children during the upcoming school year.

WMBF News did an informal poll on Facebook, and as of Friday 63% percent voted for virtual learning.

Gov. McMaster wants S.C. school districts to offer parents an option for in-person learning. Would you send your students back to the classroom, or continue virtual learning in the fall? https://bit.ly/30hphe8

Posted by WMBF News on Wednesday, July 15, 2020

A big part of early childhood development is social interaction, learning things like communication or teamwork skills. The editors at Discovery Tree suggest social cues, teamwork, relationship building, and communication skills are all a part of social interactions.

Bob Carter, a registered play therapist for The Center for Counseling and Wellness, said achieving social interactions during a virtual setting is difficult.

Carter said some of his patients are having behavior issues at home and restlessness, and are ready for social interactions.

As to what could happen without those day-to-day encounters, Carter said it could lead to “internal anguish.”

“They could be suffering because they don’t have any friends, just get any kind of anxiety and depression. They are going to suffer by not being able to do this and they can’t express themselves openly. That’s why when they come to me during this time, it’s been helpful to do all that we’ve [done] in the playroom, outside, those kinds of things,” Carter said.

He said small interactions like FaceTime could help, but ultimately if possible, children should have social interactions at school and he recommends if the parents, guardians and kids feel safe about it to return to school.

David Warner’s special needs son Zakk is heading into the fourth grade at Carolina Forest Elementary. He sees the value in both virtual and face-to-face learning, but the biggest thing for him and his son is to have the opportunity for individual plans tailored to Zakk’s needs.

“I think the main thing that we need to focus on, especially when it comes to special education, is what is that child’s individual needs if they did not learn or they regressed significantly during the last virtual sessions that we had. We need to talk about how to improve that virtual experience,” Warner said.

In the Horry County Schools’ reopening draft, they include a section on special education students. District officials said they’ll continue to work with families to determine education for students with disabilities through various models or schedules.

Copyright 2020 WMBF. All rights reserved.