It isn’t new for military children to deal with separation. From parents who are deployed or training or on exercises. From extended family members who live half a world away from where they are currently stationed. From friends, they make after a PCS (Permanent Change of Station – aka military move). In 2020, kids are separated from their classmates who might live down the street due to social distancing and virtual school. Keeping kids connected to the friends they have made is even more important now that there aren’t as many opportunities to find and make new friends and build new friendships.
In addition to writing out thoughts to friends, sharing details about their new house or clothes, letter writing allows for practicing writing letters, words, and penmanship. Letter writing is a skill in itself – working on addressing, composing a letter, and determining the best signature. Making it a weekly practice. In the letters, they can share pictures or bookmarks, or handmade bracelets. It’s a way to share, stay connected, and all while they practice and learn and don’t even realize it. So shhhh!
When able to, this is an awesome option to keep kids connected. There are several applications on computers, phones, and tablets that can be utilized and should all be used with adult supervision. It allows children to read and take facial cues while looking at each other and talking to each other. It continues to build the bond of friendship and allows them to share drawings or games or books on the video chat as the interest of the children determines. If possible, schedule the video chats so there are a pattern and expectation to the calls.
Virtual Book Club
While these are reserved for adults most times, keeping kids connected with the same reading level with a shared book is a great way to keep kids connected. It promotes reading and allows for the development of conversation while working on the skill of reading comprehension – and all under the guise of “just catching up” with a friend. If you aren’t sure what books to use, ask your child’s teacher for reading level acceptable choices. Books do not have to be purchased if you have an electronic device. Most libraries have e-books you can borrow from and the service libraries also have a large library presence online with a large volume of books available to borrow.
Kids who love to play games online can connect with their friends online. There are computer games, apps, and live games on streaming devices that allow for people across the world. There are parental controls to limit the amount of time spent online and which games can be played. Utilizing headphones, they can talk to each other as well. This is a bit outside my scope as a non-gamer, but with age-appropriate limits, being able to bond while playing a game together is a great way to stay in touch with friends. As with any online activity for your children, check on what they are doing and who they are talking to.
Old Fashioned Games
Consider playing a game on video chat. If both parties have UNO, split the deck and play. Or consider charades or Battleship – games that can easily be split between two parties and can be played solo. For the little kids maybe Boggle, and for older kids Monopoly or any board games that both parties have.
Thanks to streaming services introducing group play, you can watch a movie together at the same time and even send messages while watching. This does take some prior planning and technology link-up, but being able to continue movie nights is pretty amazing.
This year has certainly brought on the need for creativity in staying in touch but socially distanced, and these are great ways for kids to stay in touch. Based on age, children may need some parental assistance. With any technology, parental guidance and monitoring are recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics.
What have you been utilizing to help your children stay in touch with their friends? Can the adults get on a long-distance game of CLUE?