COVID19 has impacted families across the country. Parents who are separated from their children are feeling isolated and may have had to cancel their Spring Break or other visits.
For separated parents, the recommendation from experts is to maintain the regular visitation during the shelter in place. However, for parents unable to spend time with their children, it can be a difficult and trying time. These parents are limited to telephone contact. It is often difficult to have meaningful conversations with a child on the phone in the best of circumstances. COVID19 has not made it easier.
Even if separated parents do not communicate well or get along, now is the time to be flexible and communicative, especially if your children are younger. If your order is limited to a 15-minute daily call, allow the call to be longer (If you are the parent sheltering in place with the child, this will also give you a respite).
I have compiled a list of activities to make your virtual time with your child more interesting and engaging. Hopefully these activities will keep you more connected with your child through this pandemic.
Play games: Many games can be played without being in the same room. Some ideas are Hangman, Tic-Tac-Toe, Pictionary, Charades, 20 Questions, or Battleship (you may want to send your child a gameboard). Using Zoom, you can share your screen on which you can draw (with the right type of laptop, iPad, etc.), or you can use paper and pen and simply hold it up to the camera.
Read a book together If your child is younger, read a book to them – change your voice, share the pictures in the book through the screen. You can also have your child read a book to you, encouraging him or her to show you the pictures, and to change their voice and make sounds. For chapter books, you can take turns reading a book together. You can check out e-books from your public library or find it for free online. If your child is older, you can each read the book “offline” and then discuss it as you read it. After reading each book discuss the story, moral, etc., you may learn something new about your child during the conversation.
Help with Homework Children are working from packets and assignments provided online. Help them with their homework over the phone/computer. Need to brush up on your math skills? Use online programs like Khan Academy to help you understand how to help your child. You can also use games like Hangman to practice their spelling words.
Watch TV together. “Netflix Party” and “Kast” synchronize video playback and adds group chat to your favorite shows and movies.
Write a story together. You can do so orally by starting with 5-6 words, and have your child continue the story with another 5-6 words. Then you continue the story with another 5-6 words and so on. You can also co-write a story together by sharing a Google Doc and each of you writing a paragraph every day, until you have a complete story. Who knows, you might write the next great novel together. Do Mad Libs together – or write your own Mad Libs.
Remember that each of these activities provides for quality time together with your child. These activities will engage them, and your virtual time together will be more meaningful. If both parents can be flexible and cooperative, your child will appreciate it.