Our New Normal

The summer has now come to an end and school is about to start. However, the school we know where everyone excitedly clamors together on the playground waiting for the bell to ring is no more. Now, some kids are going to school, but have to wear face masks and practice social distancing. Others are staying home and learning virtually. Finally, there are students who will hybrid learn, meaning they have a combination of in-person learning and remote access. The only common denominator to our new normal is the sad fact that our children are not socializing with their peers. Anxiety, depression, loneliness are what our kids are experiencing instead of camaraderie, laughter, and fun times with friends.

This pandemic has caused our kids to isolate and spend more time on their computers than we would ever have allowed in the past. Those kids who had difficulty socializing before are now having an even more challenging time. Kids who didn’t have an issue with socializing are for the first time experiencing what it is like to be by yourself for extended periods of time.

Since the onset of the pandemic, Friendzonekids has been offering virtual classes to bring kids together and be kids. They are talking, discussing, laughing, playing games, debating, advocating, but most importantly SOCIALIZING with their peers. Over the summer, we were able to continue our virtual classes, but also offer in-person classes while practicing all Covid-19 safety procedures. It is so important to remember that academia is only part of the learning that a child needs to grow into adulthood. Socialization is the other key component. Friendzonekids will continue to offer both in-person and virtual classes for the new school year. We look forward to socializing with you!

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Back to School……

It’s just about that time of year again. School bells are getting ready to signal the beginning of the new academic year. Everyone is becoming a little bit anxious about new routines, new teachers, and new friendships. Take a step backwards and relax. Focus on the positive and each day will become easier to navigate.

Icebreakers are helpful to use when meeting new friends/classmates for the first time. A deck of cards becomes a quick game of War or Rummy. Tic Tac Toe and Dot to Dot are easy to play on a small, spiral notebook. A piece of string quickly transforms into a game of Cat’s Cradle. Practice your Origami skills at home while making a Fortune Teller and then share with friends in school. All of these can fit easily into your pocket or backpack and will provide a way to successfully engage with peers.

Of course, the best way to start a new friendship is to go over to someone and just say, “Hello!” Put away the cell phones or other means of technology and just start talking. It’s amazing how much we can learn about other people just by asking questions and being a good listener.

Wishing everyone an exciting and happy school year!

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Back to School

The school year has begun and we are back in the classroom. Our goals for the year should include doing well both academically and socially. Our kids should have positive thoughts that their new grade is going to be exciting and full of possibilities. Remind them that if they walk tall and smile, people will pick up on their positive energy and reciprocate the feeling. Go into every situation with a productive outlook. Remember to give every one the benefit of the doubt and communicate your feelings. Sometimes we may misjudge a situation or a particular act. Speak up and engage with peers!

I recently came across this poem and thought it worthwhile to share.

Words Are Windows ( Or They’re Walls)

I feel so sentenced by your words

I feel so judged and sent away

Before I go I got to know

Is that what you mean to say?

Before I rise to my defense,

Before I speak in hurt or fear,

Before I build that wall of words,

Tell me, did I really hear?

Words are windows, or they’re walls,

They sentence us, or set us free.

When I speak and when I hear,

Let the love light shine through me.

There are things I need to say,

Things that mean so much to me,

If my words don’t make me clear,

Will you help me to be free?

If I seemed to put you down,

If you felt I didn’t care,

Try to listen through my words

To the feelings that we share.

Ruth Bebermeyer

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August 2014

Aidan is quietly sitting in the corner of his new classroom looking at his classmates. He wants to go over to one or two of the children, but doesn’t know what to say to them. He’s usually shy and has trouble engaging with his peers.

Nolan walks into the cafeteria, gets his lunch and walks over to a table with kids from his 5th grade class. He is excited to be back in school after summer vacation. Nolan places his tray down and then notices the other kids turn away from him so as to exclude him from their conversation.

Tracy is in 7th grade and is taking Earth Science. The teacher has just given the class a lab to work on. Each lab is to be completed by a team of 4 students selected by the teacher. It is a group project and therefore a group grade. Tracy is ready to get to work with her fellow classmates, but they will not include her in what they are deciding to do. She feels she is too old to complain to the teacher, but has no clue how to handle this situation. Tracy resigns herself to sitting on her stool and keeping her mouth shut.

These are only a handful of instances where kids are experiencing social situations that are overwhelming, frustrating and downright sad. These kids do not know how to reverse the negative social situations they are in. They want to have a positive experience with their peers, be accepted and make friends, but do not have the knowledge or social skills.

As a parent, you may or may not know what your child is experiencing. Hopefully, most of us will be able to tell that our children are becoming socially isolated and do something about it. When our children are having difficulty with a subject in school, we seek help in either hiring a tutor or putting them in an extra help class.

Friendzonekids was created to teach those kids who have difficulty in social situations to learn the skills needed to have positive experiences with peers. More importantly, once the skills are taught they are practiced with a group of their peers so that these skills become internalized and stronger.
Children who can socially engage and participate with their peers strengthen their skills everyday. Children who have difficulty engaging become more and more socially isolated. As they get older it becomes increasingly difficult to connect and before you know it you have left elementary school, middle school, high school and college. Now you find yourself in the workplace without the knowledge of how to communicate socially with your colleagues.

Friendzonekids offers workshops throughout the year that teach social skills in a safe, nurturing environment. Children are learning how to engage with their peers and then practice those skills for reinforcement. Social scenarios are staged that encompass what these children are experiencing at home or in school on a daily basis. They are brainstorming, role playing and acting out what they should be doing in order to have positive social experiences and ultimately friends. Parents are meeting other parents and realizing they are not alone when their child is socially isolated and without a friend. Aidan, Nolan and Tracy all experienced some of the social situations that we address at Friendzonekids. We changed their names, but the social skills they learned gave them the ability to socially interact and have positive social experiences.

Please use this space to write and let us know how we can help with a particular social scenario that you would like to improve. Email me with your comments.

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Social skills are the foundation blocks of building and maintaining friendships and relationships.  Friends are people to share with, talk to and have fun times.  It is a lonely existence if you are always by yourself.

Kids who have friends don’t have time to think about what it would be like to be alone.  Kids who don’t have friends cannot experience what it is like to be part of a relationship. Children who can make friends, practice and strengthen their social skills every day.  Children who have difficulty socializing, lose whatever momentum they have attained because they are not practicing their social skills.

Friendzone was created to give children who need help with social skills a place to come to and meet friends.  A place where everyone is experiencing something similar to what they are experiencing.  A social skills group allows children to learn and most importantly, PRACTICE the skills they so desperately need to acquire.

This page will be dedicated to discussing social situations that children need assistance with.  Different topics will be addressed with ideas for children to use to boost their social skills.  We invite you to respond with your thoughts, ideas and comments.

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