Social vs. Physical Distancing & Masks : Helping prepare our students for fall and learning.Charles Daniels
Running a social skills program fueled by performance, and Applied Improvisation has always kept us on our toes with flexibility, collaboration, creativity, and critical thinking. However, like most of us engaged in the world of summer 2020, we are navigating new waters, emotions, and process.
After running our first in-person camp last week, there were some takeaways that I feel are important to share.
Physical distancing vs. social distancing
The term social distancing dates back to the fifth century, and the bible has the first known reference in the Book of Leviticus during the time of leprosy. In modern times, social distancing measures have been successfully implemented in several epidemics. But how is that wording messaging our brains? Humans are social animals, and for most, it is not just human nature, but survival. So, what if we changed the wording to physical distancing over social? I can tell you I am already witnessing the benefits of our connections this summer and seeing other organizations around the world move to the same description.
For many reasons, the COVID-19 pandemic has had a dramatic impact on physical and mental health across all ages, and now there are masks. Masks are covering our expressions, drowning our inflections, and simply just plain annoying to wear. How do we take this annoyance and turn it into something powerful and learn from it while offering a space of psychological safety? Facial features help our brains and our perceptual system shape and understand what we see. Knowing this, what do we do? Last week, working with fifteen students (ages 6-16) for five days and nine hours per day, they taught me what we need to remind others: deliberate social connecting, open-mindedness, patience, and a strong focus on our nonverbal communication skills.
For this summer, KidScape Productions is jumping safely into helping kids and teens find their strengths with this momentary annoyance. Offering creative environments where they can socially connect while staying physically distanced and homing in on verbal and nonverbal skill sets. Our goal is to give them a wonderful summer of learning and laughter while preparing them for school in the fall. We feel giving them practice in a low stakes environment will increase their ability to focus on academics once back in the school.
Continue to strengthen those social connections with physical distance.
KidScape Productions has adapted by offering in-person (limited in size) camps that follow all CDC guidelines as well as virtual options for those who cannot attend. Our camps are positioned nicely with large outside areas, and campers are encouraged to take many mask breaks.
With all of that said, what is it really like?
Coming together on day one was definitely a new experience as parents walked their campers in with masks, had their temperature taken, and physical distanced from each other. Our team at KidScape Productions had prepared and understood that this summer required us to be on our toes more them ever before. Our typically camps work with forty-five kids and teens, this summer working with fifteen max. was a perfect fit to ensure safety, and fun for all! Yes, AND the week unfolded extraordinarily! Different perspectives were discussed, connections were made, and we all found ourselves in a joyous experience learning and laughing together. Finally, together! Not the same yet doing best we can with what is available to us in this moment while staying safe.
Will things change moving forward?
Nobody knows at this time, whether we will be navigating these waters after summer and if so, for how long. At KidScape Productions we are taking this as an opportunity to help kids and teens understand the importance of positive connections through this confusing time. Our focus is helping kids grow healthy, social brains, and we are now finding ourselves in a rare opportunity to help them build communication strengths that may have been lost with spoken language. Albert Mehrabians 7-38-55 Rule of Personal Communication states that 55% of our successful communication is nonverbal, 38% is inflection, and 7% is what we know. “The nonverbal elements are particularly important for communicating feelings and attitude, especially hen they are incongruent; if words and body language disagree, one tends to believe body language” – Mehrabian
This summer we are continuing to work with small groups, following all CDC guidelines and helping kids and teens adjust to what could be our “normal” for a bit longer. To help you and yours consider how your body language could affect your social connections, try deliberate awareness on focusing attention, staying calm, and communicating clearly.
Founder/Owner KidScape Productions
Christiana Frank is a certified Applied Improvisation and Applied Theatre Consultant who created both KidScape Productions and Team Building on Purpose. Since 1999, Mrs. Frank has been employing this method in school districts, corporations, and mental health organizations; her passion is deeply rooted in helping people communicate effectively and feel confident with ambiguity and change.