Virtual PlayDates

The Covid pandemic has made some permanent changes in how we live. Doing everything from school to family dinners virtually started out as a survival mechanism, but is probably here to stay. Many companies are not bringing employees back to an office to work, opting to keep them at home. The same goes for our kids and virtual playdates.

When all of this started, many of us struggled to learn the technology that was required. Now, our kids navigate it with few problems. Many parents opted to keep their kids at home learning virtually. Some families have other reasons to want to do things like playdates via Zoom.

virtual play date

Perhaps someone in the household is still high risk for covid. Or, you live in an area that is not easily accessible, particularly in the winter months.

These ideas also are a great idea for the child who has serious medical concerns and spends a lot of time home or in a hospital.

Kids need to stay in touch with their friends, especially when they can’t meet up in person or even see one another in school. This is why I’ve compiled a list of a few ways you can help your kids stay in touch with their friends.

Virtual Play Date Ideas for Preschoolers

These ideas can be adapted for all ages and depending upon what you have at home.

  1. Sports Challenges-With all this added screentime, balancing physical activity is essential. Whether it is tricks on the trampoline or basketball free throws, have your kids do a sports challenge. Obviously it will vary by what you have available but it works for any sport. My son gets his friend on Facebook Messenger, then they talk and one sets down the phone while he does the challenge and they switch back and forth. So it’s sorta like the person is there watching you, counting how many baskets you can make and so on.
  2. Art Hour with Friends-Give the kids an art assignment. This might be something like drawing a picture of their school or something a little more creative like a castle with dragons attacking it. Then let the kids go unsupervised. They’ll chat as they work away on their project and for a brief time, it will feel like they’re sitting right next to each other.
  3. Kid’s Cooking Club-Set up a Kid’s Cooking Club each week where kids (and parents) all bake or cook the food of the week together. This will take a bit of coordination with the parents beforehand but it is a fun (and educational!) activity that kids will love. After they’ve cooked the kids can all sit down together and talk about whatever it is kids talk about these days.
  4. Play Games Together-There are a ton of fantastic online games that kids can play together in a safe environment. Madden and Roblox are both popular with kids, but anything works. Even traditional board games can be done with a phone or device set up on a stand at the table.
  5. Messenger Kids-If your kids have devices of their own then they can use a messenger app to keep in touch with their friends in a safe, controlled environment without having to constantly send texts. We have several device stands so we don’t have to hold the phone or tablet. Girls can paint their nails together while they chat, just like they were hanging out in the same bedroom.
  6. Collaborative Story Creation-Finally, arrange a collaborative story. You’re probably familiar with the idea of drawing a person as a group. Each person gets a different section of the person to draw and then you unfold the paper at the end and see what you ended up with. Well, this is the same idea. Only instead of drawing a picture, they’re writing a story. Help them get started by picking a genre and a setting, maybe it’s about astronauts flying to another galaxy or maybe it’s about a fantasy land with Princesses. Then assign an order for the kids to write in. Each kid has to write at least 100 words when it is their turn they read their portion on the video chat. For younger kids, you can have them dictate it to you.

It’s inevitable that this generation of kids is going to be online more than we were. But, parents can still facilitate activities that keep their minds and bodies active and healthy.

Good luck, and stay safe and healthy!

  • Fine Motor Skills-Games, crafts and coloring activities are a great way to use and practice a child’s fine motor skills.
  • Speech and Language– Many parents seek out a language-rich environment for their child. Any activity can be an opportunity to use and repeat new words and language, mimicking sounds, new vocalizations and articulations.
  • Executive Functioning Skills– Depending on the game or activity, it can be an opportunity to practice executive functions such as working memory, sequencing, following directions, task initiation and more.
  • Handwriting and Fluency- This piggybacks onto the language skills a child needs, but with worksheets, coloring pages and games, they can be a low-risk opportunity to practice handwriting and fluency.
  • Practicing Previously Acquired Skills-Applying already acquired skills across all environments, bring the classroom teaching into the real world.
  • Sensory-Textures, sounds, taste, vestibular, interoception, anything!
  • Social Awareness-Practice traditional social skills in a safe environment, such as: joint attention, taking turns, reciprocating conversation, waiting politely, and more.
  • Gross Motor-If you’re in a new place, practice walking across uneven surfaces, new surfaces, inclines & declines, stairs, or increasing endurance.