How & Why to Keep Preschoolers Engaged on Zoom?
Many schools moved to virtual classrooms starting before or after Pesach. And, a lot of preschool classrooms did the same. By and large, though, I heard from preschool parents that they felt the virtual classes were a waste of time for their children and that it wasn’t worth logging on. If those virtual classes were live, there may be good reasons to encourage your child to participate. Here’s why: preschoolers thrive on connection. According to Tovah Klein, director of the Center for Toddler Development and adjunct associate professor of psychology at Barnard College, online interactions allow toddlers “to see that their teachers are still here, their friends are still here and their grandma and grandpa are still here. This relationship piece is very important for young children. It is the grounding of safety and security and trust.”
So, how can you help preschoolers get comfortable with interacting with others through a screen?
- Include social interactions as part of the daily routine. Having a zoom call with a grandparent – or even with a friend – at the same time every day can provide your child with consistency, allowing them to connect yesterday to today.
- Do “normal” things. In other words, if it is a classroom, engage in circle time. If the call is with a grandparent, read a book together or play a song and sing along. This sense of normal will can create a bridge until the toddler is able to see those other people again.
- Have some back and forth. Live interactions should be distinguished from “screen time” as anytime your toddler is having a back and forth conversation with family or a friend, he is gaining language skills.
Of course, it is also important to keep it short when you are talking about toddlers. Don’t get carried away and schedule a 40 minute call with grandma. Instead, cap it at 15 minutes – but celebrate if your toddler make it to 10.