In Tri Delta’s new series, “3 For You,” we’re covering the best tips from experts as we navigate our new circumstances during COVID-19. Tri Delta alumna Alison Hillhouse, Virginia, provides tips and ideas for how family members can connect virtually over FaceTime with young children. Read her three tips below, or listen to the podcast.
Alison Hillhouse is the author of the book “Virtual Grandma” which shares secrets to engaging and connecting with young children over video-chat. With social distancing in place, virtual contact is now so important in maintaining relationships with family members. Alison shares the following advice, learned from her mom (also a Tri Delta) for grandparents and other family members using FaceTime to connect with little ones.
Tip #1 Involve Preschooler Passion Points
Think about what your little person is excited about—maybe they love trucks and cars—and come up with some ideas for your video chat that involve this passion point. For instance, if the child likes trucks, maybe when the garbage truck arrives in the morning, you can FaceTime with your little one as it picks up your trash. Or, you can create cell phone videos of construction sites in your neighborhood that you can send. Kids also enjoy seeing other people play with toys, so consider involving stuffed animals, dolls, cars/trucks, etc. and narrating your play.
Tip #2 Incorporate Creative Movement
Although your grandkids or little ones love to see you, they may not want to look at your face on screen the entire time. Get up and show them something interesting and create movement in the video. For instance, you can do house tours where you walk around with FaceTime and hit the highlights of the home. These can include the bedroom where they stay when they visit, any toys you have, an outdoor hammock or car in the garage. Have props on hand like toys, puppets or musical instruments. You can even create a toy parade by lining up little toys for them to see.
Tip #3 Utilize Meal Times
Meal time is a great time to video-chat. It’s a time when a fidgety toddler will be sitting still, you have their rapt attention, and there are natural points of conversation. Young kids love to “feed” grandparents through the screen. You can talk about what you are eating, and help young children learn new words by quizzing them on foods. It’s also the perfect opportunity to try new foods together!
If you’re looking for inspiration for other ideas to engage kids virtually, look on YouTube for examples of what children enjoy watching, particularly unboxing videos, playdough videos or toy reviews. Keep in mind that anything you’re physically doing with a toy or with food on screen is interesting for young children. Grandparents can be a great virtual babysitter during this time by participating in the kids’ entertainment, giving parents the chance to complete work or household chores.
You can find the book “Virtual Grandma” on Amazon, and Alison will be donating a portion of its proceeds over the next month to coronavirus-related charities.