As a child I was jealous of kids who could visit their grandparents after school. Having grandparents close by seemed like it would have been so much fun—but how can we maintain the connection when physical distance is a necessity?
Even grandparents who live just down the block from their grandchildren may be playing it safe and reducing or eliminating in-person visits right now. And parents are struggling to find new and inventive ways to maintain a close relationship between the generations.
But despite the encouraged isolation, some grandparent and grandchild relationships are actually becoming closer as a result of the pandemic.
Gabrielle Nidus discovered a resourceful way to keep her son’s and mother’s relationship close. Her mother gives her son daily piano lessons over Skype. “It’s all virtual,” Nidus explains. “It’s pretty amazing. They play piano and then talk, which my son insists on. She’s all by herself, so I think she appreciates the company. I’m so grateful to her for learning how to Skype and sharing her love of music with him. It’s truly amazing to see; it’s a new bond between them.”
In a similar way—despite living on opposite sides of the country—my youngest child keeps a close relationship with her grandparents by using FaceTime.
But if you’re looking for ways to engage your kids with their grandparents, try some of these ideas:
The Social Distancing Dinner
Many families are getting together outside when weather permits, spacing chairs out more than 6-feet apart and enjoying time together. If grandparents are close by, this makes an easy way to keep in close contact. Many families have a standing weekly date. Others take a more casual approach.
Read a Book Together
My mother calls my 8-year-old daughter at 10:30 each morning for another chapter of The Borrowers. This connection not only serves to keep her connected with her grandmother, but has all the benefits of reading aloud, such as building her vocabulary and giving her a positive attitude toward reading.
Just because you can’t get together in person doesn’t mean that game night is out of the question! There are many opportunities to play online games such as Scrabble Go or Spyfall. Additionally, apps such as Together or Houseparty are great options for grandparents and children to play together. Just as traditional board games offer educational benefits during play, online games can help develop skills such as vocabulary and math.
Texting and email
This one may seem obvious, but it’s still a great way to practice writing while putting a smile on Grandma or Grandpa’s face!
The Post Office
Personal correspondence is always uplifting, and is a great improvement over the usual stack of bills and junk mail. The Touchnote app allows children to mail postcards from a phone complete with a picture. As an added bonus, kids get to practice their writing skills and conventions of letter writing.
Many families are using Zoom and FaceTime to keep grandparents and grandkids connected. My own family has established a weekly Zoom call with my parents, brother, nephews and children all participating on the same call.
Jen Morrison, a grandmother of three, is keeping up via FaceTime since she can’t have her usual visits in person. “We have lots of FaceTime calls with our 1-year-old granddaughter in Arkansas,” Morrison says. “Usually it’s when she’s eating dinner, because that’s the only time she’s pretty stationary, and she likes the entertainment while eating. It’s a great way for us to keep up with her.”
Take an Online Class Together
Kids may be interested in taking an online class alongside their grandparents, so find something that interests both kids and adults. Some classes to consider could be yoga or dance class. Online schools such as outschool.com offer classes that appeal to different age groups and offer a wide variety of courses, such as a Harry Potter cooking class.
Create Online Artwork Together
Finally, consider using apps such as Zoom that include a screen sharing option that lets kids and grandparents create artwork together.
How are you connecting your kids with their grandparents? Tell us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Image courtesy of iStock.