Children have been missing out on developing vital skills with their peers while they’ve been stuck at home, according to UEL psychologist Dr Sam Wass.
He has been examining the effect on youngsters after schools across the country were forced to close during lockdown.
Dr Wass says children miss out on vital ‘peer-on-peer’ interactions when only engaging with their parents. This is Government advice for England. Check with your Local Authority for the latest news on schools opening in your area.
Many year groups are continuing their return to school, with secondary schools now welcoming year 10 and 12 pupils back with strict hygiene and social distancing measures in place to keep them safe.
Dr Wass explained why getting children back into classrooms is so important. He said: “Interacting with an adult there’s always an asymmetry – one is always the child and one is always the adult.
“Whereas with peer-on-peer interactions – children arguing over who gets to be the captain in the game, who gets to be friends with who – there isn’t that asymmetry. Nobody gets to decide, nobody’s special because they’re younger or older. It’s a competition amongst equals.”
He said learning to be persuasive in such situations is a really important part of the school experience kids can’t get at home.
He added: “That’s when they have to work hard at learning how to be persuasive, how to stand up for themselves. We know that children who are more socially isolated tend to have lower subsequent education attainment.”
The routine and stability that school brings are also vital.
He went on: “A lot of teachers say, particularly for children that have quite disrupted home lives, they love school because they find it so relaxing, knowing that the same thing happens at the same time every day.
“You don’t have to decide what happens – you have one 40 minute chunk and then it’s 15 minute break time, and so on.”