Helping Our Young Children With Social Distancing

The confirmation of the closure of schools and nurseries is obviously very unsettling news for parents everywhere.  It’s a fraught and challenging time for families as they work out how to cope with work and family life at home.

As adults we’re able to understand why we must make these adjustments and changes to our daily routines, but for our children, especially Daisy’s age, it is much harder to process.  Today they can go to nursery or school, play with their friends, run around in the playground, laugh and giggle through lunchtime.  Next week they cannot.

A couple of weekends ago (seems like longer!) we went for a walk in the woods with Daisy (primarily on a bear hunt, although wolves were acceptable quarry as well).  We ended up at playground where Daisy quickly befriended a couple of little girls and together they tried out all of the equipment, even laying side by side on the platform swing.  Sadly social distancing will mean that our children can’t get that close to their friends, they can’t go to their after school or weekend clubs and activities.  They won’t have school outings to look forward to and birthday parties will be very different for the next few months.  No more casual playtimes, our daily routines have changed.

Friendship is so important to us adults that many of us are already setting up virtual communication groups and networks to stay in touch with each other.  And I’ve been thinking about that and wondering how we help our young children to also sustain their friendships, at a distance.

Granny Smith

Maybe you can make similar arrangements with family and friends to fit in some regular time for your children, to help them stay in touch using visual communications (Sype, Zoom, Facetime, WhatsApp).  A close relative’s little boy recently discovered emojis on his Dad’s smartphone and he’s learnt that we send them to people in messages.  So now I occasionally receive a vehicle emoji!  Can you find time to give your children the opportunity to see and ‘chat’ with a friend on your Smartphone or send them an emoji or two.  Use any visual communications to let young children see and chat with their cousins, close relatives and their grandparents who may be self-isolating.

As schools prepare to close, a friend of mine is helping her young daughter to set up a ‘pen-pal’ group among her class of five year olds.  It helps the children stay in touch and is also a great way for those children to practise writing skills without it feeling like ‘lessons’.  And as grandparents, living a distance away from family, we plan to send letters and small packages to Daisy, as well as eagerly anticipating the next time we can Facetime.

Granny Smith says

If you have any other suggestions for ways to help young children to sustain their friendships while we have to be socially distancing, please send me a message so that I can share those ideas.


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