The recent school closures and social distancing measures due to COVID-19 have made family life more complicated. Kids no longer have access to their favorite after-school activities, playdates, or even communal places like playgrounds. As quarantine stretches on and everyone stays at home, your kids might get sad or upset that they can’t see their friends and extended family members.
Even if they enjoy playing alone with their toys or video games, kids need some socialization just like adults. It’s essential to figure out new ways to make this happen while maintaining a safe distance from others.
Read on to learn how kids can stay connected during quarantine, so they can still socialize while adapting to online learning and new routines. With time, you’ll discover the strategies that they enjoy and learn how to work them into your schedule.
1. Establish Phone Time
Back in the day, kids had to ask permission to use the landline to call their friends and catch up. Although most homes don’t use landlines anymore, your kids can begin to see a cellphone as more than a personal computer and texting device. You can establish a routine where your child has access to a phone and is encouraged to call friends or family. A quick chat with their best friend or grandma will make their day and help them feel like they’ve socialized.
2. Start Writing Letters
Parents can make learning from home more fun by adding pen pals to the lesson plan. Writing letters is an excellent way for kids to practice their handwriting and spelling skills. And it will teach them how to articulate their thoughts and communicate better through long-form writing, furthering their writing skills. They’ll also be excited to check the mailbox every day for letters back from their recipient.
3. Schedule Video Calls
Video calls are another way to help your kids connect with their loved ones. Talk with their friends’ parents and decide on a software platform like Zoom, Skype, or WhatsApp that both parents or the older kids know how to use.
You can also create activities for younger kids to do while on the call. Create a playlist and host a dance challenge so they get critical exposure to music. Every time kids listen to music, they retrieve memories more easily, like flashcards or school lessons. It’s an easy way to encourage their psychological development while making it fun and entertaining.
4. Download Kid-Friendly Messaging Apps
Some kids might not be old enough to have a phone yet, but they can still message their friends to keep up with each other during quarantine. Look into downloading kid-friendly messaging apps like Messenger Kids from Facebook or Kinzoo. Both of these chat apps give parents full control over who their kids talk to, when they use the app, and what they’re sending. And older kids have found the Google Docs chat app works well for communicating with classmates.
5. Encourage Video Game Time
Once your child finishes their school lessons for the day, encourage them to play team-focused video games during set hours. They can use a mic to bond with friends as they defeat levels and other players. You can even reward them for good grades with kid-oriented games they don’t own yet, like Mario Kart, Fortnite, or Minecraft. The goal would be to use these games as a community activity with people they know in real life and not an excuse to sit in front of the computer all day.
6. Plan Movie Nights
Your family can enjoy a movie night with all your child’s friends when you use the Netflix Party Chrome extension. After every family downloads and installs the extension, you can choose a movie to watch and it will show up on everyone’s screens. If you need to pause or rewind, one person will control the film on every screen so no one misses anything.
This extension also includes a group chat feature. Your kids can talk with their friends during the movie to get their real-time reactions, just as if they were in the same room together.
Ask for Their Opinion
Even if you think some of these tips sound great, your kids might not. Ask them how they’d like to keep up with friends and family members while everyone stays at home. Whether they want to drive virtual race cars around tracks or compete in a dance competition, they’ll have much more fun by staying connected during quarantine.