Making Sure Your Kids Still Have An Active Social Life While Learning Remotely

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A few days ago, my 3-year-old said the most heartbreaking thing to me. “I want to play with kids my size.” Based on trying to stay as safe as possible, she hasn’t had any opportunity to see friends since everything went down in March. The closest she’s come is an older cousin, who’s great, but not her “size.”

I know that my situation could be a lot worse. Older kids with an established social life (but who might not be too tech-savvy just yet) are likely feeling the pressure, especially if their district has opted for distance learning for the remainder of the year. But, there are still good ways for kids to have new experiences and be social while staying safe.

Write letters.

Not only will this be a great way to support the post office, but it’ll be a way for your child to learn while socializing. Try writing letters to school friends, cousins, or other family members. And, make it fun. Add stickers and don’t be afraid to color in the envelope. Getting a letter in the mail makes everyone’s day a little brighter. Plus, your child will be able to have some keepsakes for when friends write them back.

Try to create healthy limits.

One of the negatives about distance learning is the fact that it may be hard to get motivated. After all, Google is right there — and, it’s a wonderful tool for those who get easily distracted. Allow online social time. Make sure to give your child some breaks. They should be able to chat with their peers on a topic that’s not just school or the coronavirus.

Have scheduled video calls on a Vibe board.

Instead of having your kids spontaneously text a friend, set a standing time each week for a video call. Connect your Vibe board to your favorite video conferencing tool and bring your child’s friend to life on the 55’’ big screen! Maybe every Sunday at 4:15, your child can reconnect with their friend right before dinner time. Make it a priority, even for you. When your kids see that you care about their call, they’ll start valuing social connections a bit more.

Let them game.

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Video games can be a controversial topic. But when used in moderation, they can be a good way for your children to bond with their friends. Computer games may be one of your best bets, especially if you’re not in the market for a gaming system. Since it’s 2020, there are way more educational games out there than Oregon Trail and Number Munchers (although to be fair, both of those were a lot of fun back in the day.) “Yes, it’s virtual — not ‘real.’ Still, these video games remain one of the only ways our kids can learn the kind of social and emotional lessons that they’re otherwise missing out on right now,” writes Elissa Strauss for CNN. “The pandemic is giving us a chance to see the benefits of video gaming. They’re significant and something — fear not, son — I won’t be forgetting when the world reopens.”

Spend time with them.

It may seem like you don’t have too much time in your schedule, but it’s important to carve out some quality time with your kids when you don’t just talk about school and their education. Play games with them, or for younger kids, try to make everyday chores more fun. Talk to them about what’s happening, and have a vested interest in their social life. You won’t — and shouldn’t — replace their friends, but it’ll be nice for them to feel confident in talking to you. Understand that they may still have some confusion over what’s happening, and be easy on them whenever possible. We’re all in this together, and we all need to look out for each other.

Plan a virtual field trip.

Plenty of museums have created free digital tours for kids staying at home. Level up the experience by playing one on a Vibe board. Not only will it seem more like the real deal for your child, but you can easily share the tour on Zoom. Gather some of their friends together virtually and be their tour guide. Treat it like an everyday field trip, and let the kids talks and discuss this exhibits. That, or they can each schedule times to check out the live cameras on the museum webpage. “Students can tune in at the same time, then call or text each other about what they see,” National Geographic suggests.

Get them outside.

Make the most of outside times when it’s still fairly nice and not too chilly. Your kids can stay active by going on a hike. And if you happen to connect with another family who enjoys the outdoors and outdoor learning, maybe you can invite them along. Just make sure to wear masks and stay distant. By taking all of the precautions necessary, your kids can have a really fun and memorable weekend adventure.

Keep track of what the other parents are doing.

It’s important to always stick by your intuition during times like these, but in order to make sure your kid is staying social, you may want to log in and join some local parenting groups on Facebook. That way, you can easily get a good idea of what other parents are doing and thinking. Sometimes, small and safe playgroups may also form during these chats. And, who knows? You might end up meeting someone new and making a new friend yourself.

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