Playgrounds Vital to Developing Toddler Social Skills

Despite the best of intentions by teachers and administrators to normalize the “new norms” that came with virtual schooling, it has left mixed results. With new scheduling freedoms, some children and parents found opportunities to thrive by coordinating schedules and growing closer together. For others like Kasia Shopov, they’re just grateful to have made it.

A resident of San Francisco, Shoppov spent most of last year with 20-month-old daughter Sofia in lockdown. Elated about the new opportunities that come with vaccines, Shoppov has been taking her daughter twice a week to The Little Gym of Millbrae to play with other children.

“We didn’t go to any playgrounds, we didn’t go to any interactions with other people during the whole pandemic. We only had two friends we interacted with. That was it and they were younger,” Shopov said.

The Millbrae’s Little Gym offers safe opportunities for children to play and interact in an urban area with limited outdoor venues. Additionally, the gym offers classes that teach children motor and social skills through play.

Since the park reopened in March, the parent-child sessions have been full swing. Commenting on Sofia’s experiences at Millbrae’s, Shopov said, “She just loves it. She’s so enthusiastic. She looks forward to it.”

Owner Lisa Chuang said, “A lot of it is about risk-taking, socializing with kids that are in the class with them — taking turns.”

That is the kind of development many kids have missed while isolated from others, according to licensed clinical social worker Kristen Hurvitz. She notes that during the pandemic many children developed adverse social skills from limited interactions. Through play, Hurvitz explained, “Children learn to manage their frustrations, self-regulation, cooperation, communication, expressing emotion.”

Play is vital. Without healthy interaction with their peers, children may begin to show changes in behavior. If possible, getting the little ones into healthy spaces to interact not only helps ease the youthful anxieties but also assists parents getting children back into rhythm as we enter Back-To-School season.

Source: CBS San Francisco