Kids can be such social animals. As toddlers, they somewhat learn how to play with other kids no matter how awkward it might seem for us adults. As preschoolers, they have their cliques and even “best friends.” Once they enter big school, they spend most of the week with their classmates with playdates during the weekends and in between.
Saying that the COVID-19 pandemic has changed our lives is an understatement, and it has affected our kids’ lives too. Schools were canceled and summer came early for most kids — with most of them having to make do without year-end activities or class parties or even goodbyes from their friends. And while we’re practicing social distancing for everyone’s good, we also cannot just let our kids become isolated. If you’re wondering how we can still keep them connected with their friends during this time, here are a few ideas:
Schedule a virtual playdate
Us adults connect to our friends and families via video calling apps and services such as Google Hangouts, FaceTime, WhatsApp, and even Facebook Messenger. So we can let our kids connect with their friends in the same way. Let your child virtually meet with her best friend or even a group of friends using the same apps. Interacting with their peers is also vital for our kids’ well-being. It doesn’t matter whether they have an activity during the video call or not, what matters is that they get to connect and interact (even if they don’t talk) with a friend and find comfort in having each other around.
Let them have a game night with their friends
Aside from having video calls, kids can also have a virtual playdate by having a game night virtually. Apps such as Pogo can let them play their favorite board games such as Monopoly with their friends without having to gather in one place. Older kids can also enjoy a game night with their friends using Xbox Live or Nintendo Online (but you need paid accounts tho). They can share their usernames and play several video games against each other.
Have a virtual movie night
A typical movie night entails getting together in one room to watch a movie, but thanks to the Internet and Netflix, it can also be done in the time of COVID-19. If you have a Netflix subscription, download Netflix Party (free via Google Chrome extension). You can then invite your child’s friends (only those with invites can join) and add a group chat so they can “talk” during the movie. At the same time, anyone in the group can pause, rewind, or fast forward the movie at any time.
Set up a neighborhood scavenger hunts
If you have parent friends in your community, you can chat them up to set up scavenger hunts for the kids within your area. But do note that this is a different kind of scavenger hunt. You can decide on one graphic or icon, for example, a rainbow, which you can print and display in your window or door. Kids who might be out for walks with their parents can then spot these items in their own time. You can then compare how many items you’ve spotted via a group chat.
Try your hand in snail mail
This might also be a good time to go “retro” and rediscover the art of writing letters. Encourage your kid and her friends to try out snail mail and help them do it. Aside from connecting, this activity will also allow them to practice their handwriting and storytelling, and teach them the mechanics of writing a letter or addressing an envelope — all of which might need more practice in this era of emails and texts.
Remember, social distancing does not have to mean isolating ourselves from our friends or social circles. And the same applies to our kids.