February 27, 2024

Donna’s Day: Use video chat to keep in touch

“It was a dark and stormy night” could have been an apt beginning to an exciting tale told by Nancy Liddy to her two grandsons in Madison, Wisconsin, via Skype recently.

“A summer thunderstorm and resulting power outage left us with just a blur on the screen when we tried to connect for our weekly storytime,” she said. “We quickly rescheduled. Neither the boys nor I want to miss the ritual, rain or shine.”

Nancy plans ahead with a visit to her neighborhood library to check out three age-appropriate books that 4-year-old Dominic and 2-year-old Gabriel will enjoy.

“I try to find a title that’s silly or funny, such as Chris Monroe’s ‘Monkey with a Tool Belt’ series. Humor always grabs their attention and gets us in the storytime mode,” she said.

“I also go for a classic I may have read to my own kids when they were young. ‘The Story of Ferdinand’ by Munro Leaf is a favorite. The third book is based on a topic that the boys are currently interested in, such as trucks and trains, wild animals or sea life.”

It’s not only a pleasure to share good reads with the boys, but video-chatting also nurtures her long-distance relationship with them.

“Whether it’s one of the stories I read, or things they show and tell, we always have something in common to talk about when we see each other in person,” she said.

Here are tips for video-chatting with younger children:

• Put a chat time on the calendar. Schedule it for when the kids are rested and fed and try to make the “date” on a regular day and time.

• Look into the camera as often as possible. Eye contact helps kids stay engaged in conversations and interactions.

• Collect props. Books and items of interest promote curiosity and conversation. Encourage the kids to share their stuffed animals and items of interest, too.

• Create a special way of saying goodbye, such as blowing kisses.

Extra idea: Sunday, Sept. 11 is Grandparents’ Day. Send a card, video-chat your grandparents or invite nearby grandparents over for a fun get-together.

Donna Erickson

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