You wouldn’t be a grandparent if you didn’t carry a few snaps of the grandies on your phone – and if you didn’t have some cutie tales to tell about the little ones’ antics. It’s just that these days, the antics are more likely to be of the virtual kind. Take the toddler who can’t figure out why FaceTime granny isn’t hiding behind the laptop when they take a peek around the side of the screen. Or the baby whose first smile is shared on Zoom with grandparents locked down just a few kilometres away. It’s a different world, alright, but if you want to be the best grandparent you can be, it pays to wise-up on how to interact online with the kids. Here are a few ‘virtual tricks’ to have up your sleeve, and some no-no’s to be aware of.
Put on a puppet show
Making a puppet can be as easy as sewing button-eyes on an old sock, or drawing faces on paper tubes to fit over your fingers. Set up your device to take in the complete scene, and use the puppets to tell a story, dance to a song you sing, or interact with a book you read to them.
Make yourself available at homework time to help grandchildren with their learning. There’s no need to interact unless your help is required, so have something on hand (such as a crossword or knitting or crochet) until you’re required.
Share a recipe
Send your grandchild an easy-to-follow family recipe, and sit in on the preparation, ready to answer questions and encouragement. If your grandchild isn’t old enough to safely cook alone, choose a time when an older sibling or parent is available to help.
Get out the photo album, and choose some snaps of family members taken way-back. As you hold each one up, ask your grandchild to guess who it is they are looking at. Have a ‘postable’ prize in store to reward the effort, or a digital prize such as an on-line children’s movie which you can pay for.
Ask for help
Older grandchildren like nothing better than to advise grandparents on how to use a device. Make it easy for them by contacting the child on one device (such as your mobile) and having a second device (such as a tablet or laptop) at the ready so you can follow their instructions.
3 online no-no’s
1. Skip the water play
Did you know little ones can drown in just a teaspoon of water? That’s why you must never ‘babysit online’ when a small child is around water – even if it’s just a centimetre or two in a bath or playtime container.
2. Don’t miss out the manners
Just because your interaction is online, it’s no reason to excuse bad manners. Get in the habit of establishing online routines such as an initial greeting and a clear farewell. If children look as though they’re tiring of a chat or play session, give them an opportunity to say goodbye before they get sidetracked, and leave without ending the session politely.
3. Never post without permission
We all want to share our grandchildren with others, and this includes our online time with them. But if you’re doing this on social media, don’t be tempted to post your grandchild’s image to go with it – at least not until you have their parent’s permission. If you do, you risk offending parents, or the child themselves (if they are older). If you check first, the answer is likely to be ‘yes’, but never assume permission.
Online interaction with grandchildren isn’t just fun, it’s essential – especially with Covid, lockdowns and heightened alert levels now a part of everyday life. Don’t waste a moment of precious grandparenting time – go online with the grandies now!