20 Fun Ways to Help Your Child Feel Connected During Social Distancing
Kids are naturally social creatures. They are meant to live and play in groups. 2020 has been the year for adjustments. In order to stay physically safe, we wear masks and keep our distance from friends inside and outside of school. This “new normal” can be very confusing for children and take a toll on their emotions. Socially isolating oneself for long periods of time can have a negative impact on mental health. So how can we teach our children the importance of avoiding close physical contact with others outside the immediate home, while encouraging ways to stay socially connected with their peers?
First and foremost, children need to be taught that physically distancing oneself is not the same as social distancing. While it is important that they follow CDC guidelines and school safety protocols, it is also important that they take care of their mental health. For many children, participating in online learning can feel isolating. For those who have returned to face-to-face learning, they may feel a sense of disconnect due to being in a different classes from some of their peers or not seeing a friend who is learning from home. Regardless of the situation, it is important to find ways to keep social connections alive.
This week I decided to do some research and compile a list of fun and creative ways to help your child feel connected to both family and friends during this challenging time. I hope that you find these suggestions to be helpful for both you and your family.
1) Participate in Bags of Love project.
2) Host a virtual play date. Learn how to set one up here.
3) Tired of your child only engaging with friends through Fortnite or Minecraft? Here are some fun free online games that your child can play instead.
4) Try some of these fun social distancing games that allow kids to interact face-to-face while keeping their distance. While these are suggested for summer, many can be played all year long.
5) Set up weekly video calls to check in with friends and family. (We have one with my family every Sunday night!)
6) Try out Messenger Kids created by Facebook.
7) Have your child and a few other friends sign up for a virtual class together.
8) Engage your child and a few friends in a service project that they can participate in virtually. Create the Change Week actually takes place this week, November 7-15. Check out this link for other virtual service projects to help your child stay connected while serving others.
9) Teach a friend or family member a new skill. Have each person video themselves doing a creative drawing, recipe, or science experiment and share it among family and friends!
10)Host a virtual dance party with friends
11) Go on a virtual field trip with your friends and then discuss your favorite and least favorite parts of the trip.
12) Organize a virtual book club with friends.
13) Younger kids can take turns reading their favorite stories to family members or friends virtually.
14) Create a story together. One person starts the story and then their friend will illustrate the page. Another person continues the story. Each person takes turns illustrating and adding to the story. At the end everyone has a fun book that they created together with their friends.
15) Host a virtual baking party.
16) Host a virtual tower building challenge. An adult can help pick a theme and set a timer. Friends can compete against each other by building the same structure using legos, building blocks, or household items. When the time is up, adults can judge for who is truly the building master.
17) Show friends and family members that you care by leaving special treats at their door, whether it’s a handmade card, art project, or chalk art.
18) Have your child participate in old-fashioned letter writing by having them mail a kind note to one of their friends or family members.
19) Have your child cook the same meal with friends or family and then dine together virtually.
19) Participate in non-contact sports with friends such as bike riding, playing catch, throwing a frisbee, (make sure to remind children to keep hands away from their faces and watch hands when they are done.)
20) Host an outdoor movie night. Kids can bring their own chairs or blankets while socially distancing. Have a snack bar with pre-packaged snacks. Make it even more fun by doing a theme where everyone dresses up as characters in the movie.
Have an idea of a way to help children stay connected during this challenging time? Let me know or share it in the comments.
As always, please do not hesitate to email me if you have questions or concerns about your child's social and/or emotional well-being.