3 Ways Kids Can Make New Friends — Even During a Pandemic
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When school campuses closed in 2020 due to the pandemic, many kids found it difficult to make new friends and connections. In response, former teacher Karen Aronian, Ed.D., spearheaded Teacher2Neighbor.com — a nonprofit volunteer organization that provides free tutoring to students and families. Dr. Aronian provided CircleAround with three tips on how kids can make new friends and how parents can help facilitate those bonds now that schools are reopening.
1. Find Ways to Connect Outside
“It is key to make small and big meetups before school starts to reacquaint children with their peers,” Dr. Aronian tells CircleAround. Meeting up outdoors is still a safe way to connect with others and get to know new classmates ahead of the school year, especially while the weather is pleasant.
“Meet up with a friend or two to walk the main street and grab an ice cream,” she suggests. “Organize a dog playdate [owners, too] in a park. The pressure is off the kids, and the focus is on the dogs,” which can lead to a fun day for everyone involved.
2. Participate in School-Related Activities
Build a bond with your child by participating in fundraisers, sports games, and other events sponsored by your school district.
Dr. Aronian knows it’s important for parents to bond with other parents, too. “Parents should consider being a class mom [or dad],” she tells CircleAround. “They can help initiate student and parent meetups.”
“Take advantage of any orientations that are offered,” she adds. Not only will you learn about what’s to come in the school year, but you might find other parents who have questions or concerns similar to yours.
Signing your child up to volunteer is a great way to help them connect with others online or in person. These are friends they might not get to meet in a traditional school setting. Whether it’s digital tutoring or cleaning up a park, kids can become close with other kids with similar interests.
“Kids should volunteer to be new student peer mentors to expand friend groups,” Dr. Aronian adds. “Join volunteer charity opportunities and clubs that are promoted at the start of the year. It's usually a broad mix of ages and stretches students’ interests, leadership, and skill sets.”
The Bottom Line
Even during a pandemic, there are so many ways kids can safely make new friends. Planning outdoor playdates, being active in the community, or volunteering are just a few ways kids can form strong new bonds that last through the school year and beyond.
This piece is part of a series focused on helping parents prepare their kids for back-to-school. For more tips on getting organized, mastering multiple schedules, and prepping for the 2021 school year, see our full back-to-school guide.