Today’s grandmas have to be creative to stay connected with our grandchildren. As part of the digital generation, our grandchildren tend to have short attention spans and favor visual stimulation.
If you’re a long-distance grandma, making the connection can be even more challenging. I understand the challenge because all three of my granddaughters are long-distance. I’ve found that by combining old traditions (reading books) and new technology (Skype) we can bridge the miles and spend some quality time together.
One of our favorite ways to get together is on Skype. I’ve written another post about how to set up Skype. In between our visits to see the girls we have regular Skype story hours with them. I select books from the library that relate to some of their current activities. Recently, we went through a series of books about horses because they’re volunteering at an equine rescue and rehabilitation facility. I also found an adorable book called Sneezy Louise for my younger granddaughter, who had a cold when we spoke.
The two sisters both love books and squeeze onto a chair together in front of their computer screen. I hold up the books in front of my screen so they can see the pages while I read to them. It takes some adjusting of the book and camera to find the optimum angle. The best books for Skype are ones with bright colored illustrations and not too much print. Sometimes we all take turns reading together. We did that with Sneezy Louise because the four-year-old loves to repeat the refrain when Louise says: Achoo! If I hold the page close enough to the screen, the seven-year-old can read it on her screen.
One of my grandma friends, Cheri, always inspires me with her creative ideas for Skyping with her grandsons, ages four and two. Here are some of her ideas:
- Dress for the occasion. Wear a hat or accessory appropriate for the weather, the season, a holiday or special event. Cheri has arrived for the call wearing sunglasses or holding an umbrella. She wore a Giants baseball cap and scarf after the Giants World Series victory.
- Play games they enjoy—Hide and Go Seek and Simon Says are great for younger children.
- Sing songs with fingerplays or actions like Head Shoulders Knees and Toes. Use small finger puppets to sing along with your grandchild.
- Make faces and ask them to guess what emotion you’re displaying on your face.
- Play a memory game called “I’m going on a picnic and I’m bringing …” then take turns listing an item in alphabetical order. Each person has to recite what everyone else brought and then add their own new item.
Another grandma who’s always got creative suggestions for long-distance connecting is Nina. Check out her blog at GrandmaIdeas.com.
Seeing your grandchildren on a computer screen pales in comparison to being there. But it sure beats trying to connect on the phone—especially when they’re too little to understand what’s going on. The visual connection keeps the relationship thriving and we’re a lot better off than our grandparents were with only snail mail and phone calls.