Video calls with grandparents

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Your child learns best from the important people around them, but sometimes – whether it’s due to a pandemic like we’re experiencing now, or simply because family and friends live far away – we can’t be close to them.

Happily, video calls are a great way to stay in touch with the young children in your family and it means they can enjoy the benefits of talking, reading, singing and playing with loved ones even when you can’t be in the same room together.

Many grandparents are staying in touch during COVID-19 using video calls with their grandchildren for the first time, while others may be video call regulars who use technology to stay in touch with grandchildren (or nieces, nephews and friends).

You may not be able to share stories together in person right now, but video calls are a great way to continue spending special time together.

A recent article on the many benefits of sharing video calls with grandparents recommends these tips to try:

Tips for preparing for a video call 

Try these ideas to help your video call run smoothly, especially if you are new to this technology:

  • Go hands-free so your call seems more natural by using a prop or a tripod
  • Cut out as much background noise as you can
  • Schedule your call to fit with everyone’s routine and avoid disappointment
  • Help your child prepare for the call by prompting them to have a drawing or new toy to show and tell, or ask them to share some great news or achievement
  • Start with calls of around 5-10 minutes. If that works, you can start making them longer

Tips for keeping the call going

Sometimes it can be tricky to make a video call feel fun and spontaneous. Try these ideas to keep young children interested during your call.

  • Use books and photos as discussion ideas
  • Maintain eye contact
  • Use songs and games like “pat-a-cake” and “peek-a-boo” to capture babies’ attention. Musical statues is a good game with older children.
  • Make funny faces and hand gestures, or blow kisses
  • Dance, take each other on a tour of your home or garden, or try exercise moves together

Even through a video call, conversations between grandparents and grandchildren about gardening, cooking, playing, reading and sharing books, or walking in the neighbourhood contribute to grandchildren’s learning. The special interests and activities you share provide a wonderful platform for conversation that will encourage thinking, wondering and searching for knowledge and understanding.

It doesn’t matter what your grandchildren like to do on your video call: talking, reading, singing and playing together helps build their vocabulary and new connections in their brain. So don’t let the distance keep loved ones out of the conversation!

Nursery rhymes to share on video calls

Try "Old MacDonald" so your grandchild can suggest the animals to sing about. "Hokey Pokey" is another great option involving lots of silly moves to share!

Books about grandparents

There are many wonderful stories about grandparents. Try adding these to your next video call:

  • My Nanna is a ninja, by Damon Young and Peter Carnavas
  • The potato people, by Pamela Allen
  • Shoes from Grandpa, by Mem Fox
  • Grandpa Green, by Lane Smith
  • The Grandma Book, by Todd Parr
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