If you miss your friends, co-workers and date nights out, imagine how much your child must miss their school friends and playdates.
Although get-togethers and playdates are not an option during a global pandemic, children shouldn’t regress on the social skills they’ve already developed.
Thankfully, we live in a modern world where socialization has been taken to another level, which can be a very positive thing especially during moments where we all must stay at home.
1. Have Virtual Playdates
What is a virtual playdate you ask? A virtual playdate is like a regular playdate, except that it’s over webcam. It is a totally safe and fun way for your child to spend time with their friends.
You can set up an hour or two aside for your child to have a playdate with their friends or classmates. This will give them an opportunity to catch up and have fun together.
Imagine your child goofing off and having a blast hanging out with their friends like they did at school.
Also, if they happen to be celebrating their birthday during quarantine, you could make a group call with friends and family so they can share your child’s big day through the cameras.
The best part is that virtual playdates are not limited to only hanging out. There are plenty of fun games your child can play with their friends over video calls.
Some fun games that you could play in apps like Zoom include Simon Says, Pictionary, Hangman and Charades.
2. Make Videos and eCards
In this day and age of technology, there are lots of creative ways for your child to socialize and express themselves.
An easy and fun way of helping your child interact with others is through short videos. Apps like Snapchat and TikTok make this really easy.
You can always tell your child to get creative while you film them. They can do a show and tell, sing songs, dance or all three.
If you can’t think of a video theme, there are lots of Youtube channels you can use for inspiration. My students love videos of toy reviews for show and tell and GoNoodle for sing and dance-alongs.
You can share your child’s video creations to friends and loved ones and have them send back their reactions.
But, if videos are not quite your style, eCards are a great and simple alternative.
eCards can be digital versions of greeting cards where you create hilarious animated stickers by uploading pictures of your family members’ faces.
There are many services that let you create eCards for free. One of my favorites is jibjab.com.
3. Eat Together as a Family
Plan to have at least one meal of the day where you sit together as a family.
Children not only socialize through play with other children, but also they can socialize by building stronger relationships with their family members.
Use meal time to ask your child about their interests and opinions. It’s important for them to feel included in family conversations and participate by expressing their feelings and points of view.
Having a more interactive sit down meal with your child can boost their confidence and strengthen their relationship with you as they feel that you value their ideas.
You are creating an environment for your child where they can communicate safely and without judgements.
Also, have in mind that you want this moment to be technology free for everyone in the table. Meaning that you want to focus your attention on bonding with your family.
4. Have Family Game Nights
Board games are a great tool for the development of social and critical thinking skills.
Some examples of great family board games that boost social skills and critical thinking are Monopoly, Uno and charades.
These games will require your child to interact with others while analyzing moves, such as purchasing a property, adding numbers, or guessing what a teammate is trying to mimic.
Working together and competing with others will teach your child to be a team player and communicate effectively. This is a great skill to have at a young age because it can help them in handling difficult situations and build leadership.
Strategy games like Risk and Battleship are also great for building your child’s critical thinking skills and problem solving skills. For example, they need to analyze optimal moves in Battleship against their opponent or choose the right alliances in Risk.
Trusting that they are making the right decisions in strategy games, as well as other types of board games, can reinforce your child’s confidence in decision making.
5. Have a Movie Watching Party
Unfortunately, movie theaters are closed, but streaming services are still able to give us the entertainment we want at whatever time we want it.
Now, it’s also possible to have movie parties with friends all over the world using streaming services.
You can let your child watch their favorite movies and T.V. shows with their friends using a new app called Netflix Party.
To install Netflix Party, you need to have a Google Chrome browser in your desktop or laptop and a Netflix account.
You can stream the movie your child wants to watch on Netflix. Then, open the Netflix Party app and share the link of the party with whoever they want to watch the movie with.
Their friends will be able to watch at the same time and share their thoughts and comments through a chat in the app.
If somebody in your party doesn’t have a Netflix account, someone can stream the show/movie and share their screen with the rest of the viewers through the Zoom app.
Nowadays, there is no way to be distant on purpose. Take advantage of these hard times to be closer to your loved ones and to teach your child to be caring and communicative.
Have fun socializing!