One of the most difficult parts of the pandemic has been limited in-person visits with family members and friends. Virtual visits are the safest option, but that doesn’t make them easy, especially for kids.
“Our grandchildren are literally growing up without us being able to see them,” said Topekan Jane Owen, whose grandchildren live in Georgia. “Part of the pleasure of watching your grandchildren grow is observing them develop and reaching their milestones. Yes, we can see it through Facetime, which is truly a gift, but it doesn’t substitute for being with them.”
“It feels like it’s very hard to get everyone’s needs met in virtual visits,” explained Discovery Center staff member Laura Burton, a mom of two. “The kids are running around and bouncing off the walls, they don’t want to sit in front of a screen, and when they do, they just want to make faces and play with filters. Their grandparents want them to talk about what’s going on. So everyone gets antsy.”
Although virtual visits are often difficult, it’s important for kids to maintain relationships with important people in their lives. Here are 12 tips from the Kansas Children’s Discovery Center education team to make your virtual visits more meaningful and fun.
- Play together. Get the same toy, book or activity and work through it together. Build the same block creation, assemble the same puzzle, or read a treasured story.
- Turn virtual visits into a part of the child’s daily routine. Make one bedtime story virtual each night, or share an afternoon snack. Grownups can lend a hand by entertaining children while their sibling gets a bath, or while their grownup prepares dinner.
- Play games. Many common board and card games have virtual versions or apps you can play together on phones. Some games, like 20 Questions, Simon Says or Charades can be played over virtual visits.
- Sing and dance. Put on music and have a virtual dance party or sing along.
- Scavenger hunt. Have the child find an object around the house that is a certain color, starts with a specific letter, or has a certain characteristic (soft, hard, rough, smooth, etc.) Have a helper in the child’s house hide something fun in the house and go on a virtual hunt to find it!
- Create a virtual photo album of things your child did during the day or week. Send it to family, or have the child show it during a virtual visit.
- Teach each other. A grownup can teach a child like how to create a craft or cook a favorite dish. Children can teach adults the newest dance (can grandma floss?!).
- Write a story together. A grownup can begin the story and send it to the child to continue. Keep passing the story back and forth and see what you end up with. When you’re finished, read it together on a virtual visit.
- Have a high-tech tea party. Set up some stuffed animal guests, add a fun tea set, and talk about what you like having with your tea!
- Do a tour. Go on virtual walks around the neighborhood. Let the child show you around their backyard or bedroom.
- Mail something. Send cards, postcards or stickers to them through the mail. Include an envelope for them to mail something back.
- Conduct an interview! Check out our free Interview a Grandparent printable for great question ideas.