If you’re a long-distance Nana or Poppa, making the connection with your grandchildren can be challenging. If you work to combine old traditions with new technology – like ‘Skype’ – you can bridge the miles and spend quality time together.
Skype is a free download internet application. All you need is a computer or an iOS device (like an iPad), with an internet connection. Here are my top five tricks for connected Grandparents, using Skype:
Reading. Old traditions don’t have to go out of the window with new technology. Visit your local library or bookstore and choose a children’s book you love. What are your grandchild’s hobbies? Dance? Ice hockey? There is a good book for every interest and activity. For the 2-5 year old set, A Different Drummer Bookstore owner, Ian Elliott, recommends “How do you Feel,” by Burlington’s Rebecca Bender, “We Found a Hat” by Jon Klassen, and “Tidy” by Emily Gravett, which is sure to be a hit with Moms and Dads, because it’s all about a badger who is determined to clean up his part of the forest! For kids 8+, a chapter book is great for Skype calls, where you read them a chapter at a time. A Canadian favourite is the Screech Owl series, by Roy MacGregor.
Sportscaster. Wear your grandchild’s favourite team’s ball cap and give a play-by-play of the latest game. Or, think about doing a broadcast for your grandchild on everything they didn’t know about their sports superstar. It will take a little investigating on-line, but you’d be surprised at what you can discover that your youngster doesn’t know.
Games. What were your favourite board games growing up? Choose a game then mail it to your grandchild, buying one for yourself as well, then play online together. A deck of cards can be used for a great game of Go Fish! Older children love strategy games like Battleship. While the children are engaged with their next move you can chat and catch up on their daily lives in a relaxed setting.
Music. Many children love to sing and dance. Do you want to introduce the classics? Dress up like Handel and sing Hallelujah from Suzanne Brown’s children’s book Baroque with Joy. Or ask them to play their favourites!
Draw. Fold a sheet of paper in half and draw a card. Show each other your designs via Skype and then mail yours to your grandchild.
These are only a few activities to engage your grandchildren on-line. Be creative, have fun and stay connected! •
Calah is the Chief Storyteller at CALAH Communications, a digital marketing agency. She teaches social media courses for the City of Burlington, at the Senior’s Centre. Contact her at email@example.com for the rules of GoFish!
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