While the quarantines, shutdowns, and social distancing measures related to the pandemic have been difficult for everyone, the elderly have been particularly hard hit. Since seniors face the most health risks from COVID-19, most of them have been careful to avoid close contact with their family members. This has left many grandparents unable to visit with their grandchildren for close to a year now. The loss of in-person connection for such an extended period of time can cause people to feel isolated and lonely, which can eventually lead to mental health issues like depression. At the same time, children who are unable to spend time with their grandparents may experience confusion and anxiety over their lost relationship.
It’s important for grandparents and grandkids to find ways of staying connected during this period and not miss out on the beneficial effects a close relationship can engender. Here are 5 fun ideas for grandkids to stay connected to grandparents during the pandemic (and beyond) other than emails, phone calls and texts. Alhough video chats, phone calls and texts will never replace in-person visits, they offer one of the most effective ways of keeping those relationships—and everyone’s spirits—as strong as possible during these dark times.
Grandparents can share storytime with their grandkids over video chat. They can read a story or choose a favorite book at the grandchild’s reading level and take turns reading pages. This can give the grandchild the added benefits of improving reading skills, building their vocabulary, and helping them develop their speaking abilities. By picking a regular time to call and read together each week, it can also give both of them something to look forward to.
2. Playing Games
Yes, family game night can still happen! Grandparents and grandkids have many options for online gaming, including even classic board games, such as Scrabble, Monopoly, and Clue. Like their traditional counterparts, online games also help children develop math and vocabulary skills while they are having fun. Techradar gives some ideas on how to virtually play games together. But don’t forget the easy, tried-and-true games like Charades, Simon Says, and 20 Questions!
3. Have A Tea Party
Invite grandma and grandpa to have tea virtually. Set up a tea party with stuffed animal friends, a tea set (both imaginary tea and real tea works for this) and their favorite tea party snacks, and have kids and grandparents dress in their finest tea time attire. Grandma and Grandpa can have their tea set and snacks out so they can all have tea together.
4. Write a Story Together
Kids and grandparents can take turns writing an “add-on” style story together. One starts by saying or writing a sentence or a paragraph (depending on your child’s abilities), then the other will add the next sentence or paragraph. Repeat until an entire story is written. They can go back and forth in email, or just spend some time together on a video chat or phone call. When the story is done, they can read it together just like in Storytime.
5. Mailing Letters, Postcards and Artwork
These days, letter writing almost seems like lost art. But sending personal letters and postcards is a great way for grandparents and grandchildren to connect with one another. Handwritten letters and postcards can also be prized keepsakes that will help grandchildren remember their grandparents long after they are gone. When possible, children should be encouraged to hand-write letters and postcards instead of typing and printing them out. They can also decorate their letters or postcards with drawings and art, and include their artwork pieces made especially for grandma and grandpa!
Romper.com has some more ideas for fun activities to do together. And maybe the first fun activity is to have a phone call or video chat to come up with even more ideas and a schedule to begin.