Being stuck at home and not being able to see friends and family is so hard. With experience as a social skills teacher, I find it extremely important to keep up the communication. My twins have lost a ton of socialization from being home and not going to school with their friends. Before the outbreak, they had a bus, school, DOJO, and gymnastics. Now, my kids are only communicating with my husband and me, front and center. That’s why we hop on Zoom/FaceTime/the phone or turn to the old pen and paper and get cracking on a letter to friends and family, near and far.
There are lots of options out there, so what have I found to be the easiest and best? This is subjective, but here’s my take…
I never heard of it before quarantine, but when I did some digging, I found it was a free app for calling multiple people (a la Skype). You can make your calls up to 40 minutes for free. You can also hear and see a large number of people on one screen. We recently held a call for my mom’s birthday with ten other people, and it was great – she felt so loved! It’s pretty easy to maneuver, and the quality is good. And hey, free is free!
Everyone with an iPhone or Apple computer knows FaceTime (I hope), but I’ve found it to be perfect for my six-year-old twins. They pick a family member, hop on, and read them a book (with some help). Since we’re not able to pop over to visit any grandparents, we call to read developmentally appropriate books and to practice social skills. As a society, because of all the apps and advanced technology, we’re losing the common core social skills of a greeting – hello, hi, or even eye contact. But right now, thank god we have this technology because it’s become a savior!
There are so many lessons that can be taught by teaching phone skills. Math, geography, fine motor skills, and memorization skills can all be practiced. It’s also great for keeping up a simple conversation versus making faces in the mirror screen.
Snail Mail or Email
Create a mailing station with stamps, envelopes, and return address stickers/stamps. Or teach typing skills! Does anyone else remember Mavis Beacon? I’ve been teaching my twins hand positioning on letter keys (left: a,s,d,f and right: l,k,j,h) by letting them know which hands to use. If they’re working on a word, they verbalize what letter they’re looking for, and I’ll tell them which hand to use while sitting next to them.
This free app is so easy to use. I downloaded it and called a friend (who doesn’t have an iPhone) to see what the hype was all about. It was such fun – we got to video chat, and those without iPhones don’t have the option to FaceTime. We giggled on Housepaty as we navigated the app together. We played heads up, and we were even able to pick topics to use in the game. My twins also brightened her day by reading to her. FREE, entertaining, and easy to use.
Hopefully this list provides a little context behind the educational benefits behind these different communication tools. They all have benefits, so exercising a little in each medium is a great way to stay connected and practice those social skills.