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Local 5 - weareiowa.com | Des Moines Local News & Weather | Des Moines, Iowa

What are the possible side effects of at-home learning?

Local 5 spoke with a psychologist to find out what parents can do to help their children.

DES MOINES, Iowa — With school starting soon, many people will be utilizing at least some form of virtual learning. That means more time at the kitchen table for children, and less time with their peers.

"People are very social creatures. Some of us more than others but we do all need a certain level of socialization," said Scott Eilers, a psychologist at Mercy Family Counseling Cedar Rapids.

Socialization is something many students may miss out on this year.

"Usually it's more important for younger kids because they're really still learning social norms and practices," Eilers said.

So what can you do as a parent to help your child who may miss out on valuable social time? Eilers recommended finding one or two other families in similar situations.

"You can have sort of an agreement like we are going to try and minimize exposure to other people so our kids can play safely and worry free."

He also recommended creative alternatives like zoom play dates and even an activity many parents may not think about.

"Parents will have mixed feelings about this but I like to remind parents that online gaming is social. It's not a replacement for face to face interaction but it's better than nothing," Eilers told Local 5.

Meanwhile, a parent of a Rolling Green Elementary School student is ready for her child to get back in class

"Really, the online classes are fine but it is really critical in my opinion that they have that face to face interaction with their teachers," Pam Geitz told Local 5.

But even when children are in school  they may still struggle to get their ordinary fill of socialization.

"Things like lunch and recess seem like they're probably going to be the parts of the school year that are most different. That's the leisure time for the kids. That's their break and outlet for all the energy they've been holding in." 

Eilers recommended that teachers find ways to work in breaks into lecture time because the students' ordinary breaks are not going to be as effective.

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