Ashley Wynne, center, the school counselor at St. Matthew the Evangelist School, said for younger and older students alike, it’s imperative they have social interactions to build relationships with their peers. Pictured from left are Wynne’s children, Hunter and Luke, seventh grade and kindergarten at St. Matthew, respectively.

After two months away from school and their peers due to the coronavirus outbreak, students may start to feel a sense of loss of social interaction.

From students in kindergarten to teenage years, Ashley Wynne, the school counselor at St. Matthew the Evangelist, said it’s imperative for children of all ages to interact with people their age.

“For younger elementary students, peer interaction is important for social skills such as playing and sharing,” Wynne said. “For adolescence, interactions take more of a forefront for social development, and are stepping stones for developing relationships in adulthood.”

Though Wynne said the coronavirus pandemic has been difficult, she said there are at least ways to deal with social distancing.

“Social distancing does not equal social isolation,” she said. “We can use technology to our advantage. Students are used to interacting with friends through technology, so they’re adapting well to it.”

As an educator, Wynne said using technology has helped teachers and staff stay connected through applications such as Zoom.

“Teachers and educators are checking in with students and getting together online,” she said.

Wynne said some advice she gives to parents is to establish a daily routine for their student who might be feeling socially distant from their peers.

“It provides a little bit of control,” she said.

Breathing control, keeping a journal, exercising, practicing mindfulness and coloring are just a few ways parents can create a calm environment for their children, Wynne said.

Keeping tradition and hosting events such as online spirit weeks and talent shows has helped students stay connected with their school, Wynne said.

“It connects us while not being together,” she said.

Wynne, who has two children who attend St. Matthew, said one crucial piece of advice she gives to parents is to listen to their children if they’re feeling down.

“They may be feeling different emotions right now,” she said. “One of the most beautiful parts of being a human is feeling. It’s important to not ignore feelings.”

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