By Terrio Jenkins
I was talking to someone yesterday, and they told me how they feel they are becoming their child’s friend and less of a parent. I told her that instead of their child socializing with their friends only when their teacher does Zoom check-ins, that they and the other parents can arrange digital play dates.
Which brings me to my first pandemic SUGGESTIONS for playdates. Now, before I go into these, they are not proven. I’m not a parent. I was an elementary school teacher for three years and a teacher’s assistant for three years. The value of children socializing with each other is an important part of their education. During this unprecedented time, we have to remember that even if we are isolated, we have the means to stay connected than we ever had before.
Here are my suggestions:
- Digital Play Dates: Hey come on, you know, I know, we all know every child, who is fortunate, has some form of tablet or phone, even a computer. Set up digital play dates with Zoom or Facetime. Call the parent of your child’s friend and let them play video games on the phone while they talk through Zoom. Both parents can setup Twitch accounts that allow the children to stream their games to each other and talk to each other.
- Video Games can be Educational: STOP! I know you are already saying they play enough video games. I agree, but again, we are in unprecedented times. Video games would be a nice distraction for them from this pandemic. Remember, there is a host of educational games sites. Some are free and others have subscriptions, but they all offer subjects like math, language arts, science, and social studies. Check out EducationCity.com
- Active Play Dates: Since they can video conference with each other, they can still play with each other. They can work out, dance, do Tik-Toks. They are plenty of physical activity programs online such as GoNoodle. I’m sure your child already knows this site from school. This would be an awesome way for you and the other parent to connect with the children as you supervised them or if you are now teaching.
- Study/Work Groups: Yes, your children are receiving work from their teachers. Why not let your children work on assignments together? This will keep a social consistency that reminds them of being in school. Again, you have to coordinate with other parents, but this would do wonders for your child if they are starting to become bored with playing with themselves.
- Read Aloud: Book time(no pun intended) for them to read to each other using sites like Zoom. Again, this is another activity that we used in school to increase reading comprehension and fluency. Again, your children would love to do this because they are connecting with each other and it will remind them of their routines from school.
I hope those suggestions help you and your child. Let me know in the comments.
Terrio Jenkins is a multi-media writer and designer,. He has a Bachelor’s in Liberal Arts from Fairleigh Dickinson University, an Associate of Applied Science in Graphic Design & Digital Media from Rowan College at Burlington County, and is pursuing a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing.