A more accurate term for what we are all doing now is “physical distancing,” not “social distancing.” We are coming together by staying apart and finding new ways to connect, be social, and maintain relationships. The relationship you have with your grandchild(ren) need not suffer a setback in these unsettling times. Here are some suggestions for bringing your family together.
- Set up a regular video chat date. Invite your grandchild(ren) to share what they have been reading and studying or to give you a “tour” of their “school room.” Options like Zoom, Skype, FaceTime, and Google Hangouts work well. (Get a review of each with tutorials.)
- Write a letter or draw a picture to mail to them (even if they are in the same city). Everyone loves to get mail! You can also include a self-addressed stamped envelope and ask them to write you back.
- Record yourself reading a favorite book to share. Voice memos on your phone work. You could also read it over video chat for a more interactive experience. Feel free to bring props to story time! Tea with Zayde by Barney Saltzburg is one of our favorite PJ Library books about grandparents.
- Share some of your family’s story with them. Relate an experience from your childhood—a time when you showed resilience or when you were frightened (and how you handled it). Knowing these stories will help them feel more connected to you and may also provide comfort in these challenging times. Use a voice memo on a smartphone, make a video, or use the StoryCorps app. This is a great example of the Jewish value of dor v’dor (generation to generation).
- Play a game together. Play something on your own devices (like Words with Friends for older kids) or set up an identical game (such as Battleship or Checkers) that you each play from your side. You can also play together via Caribu or HouseParty.
- Go for “walks” together. With you on your phone and your grandchild(ren) and parents on theirs, take a walk and narrate what you see. You could also do a “scavenger hunt.” Decide in advance five things you will each look for on your walk (e.g., something red, a small mammal, a car with out-of-state plates, yellow flowers, a child’s toy), and see who can find them first.
- Start a Gratitude Journal together. There are apps (like The 5-Minute Journal) and books (e.g., The 5-Minute Journal for Kids), or just use a blank journal. It is more important than ever to focus on the good (the Jewish value for this is hakarat hatov). You can share your entries with each other or just share that you have done it.
- Plan to attend a Shabbat sing-along or other gathering together. Pick a time/day that works for both households and plan to show up to watch together, separately. There are also online concerts or plays you can attend.
- Visit a museum virtually. Many museums offer virtual tours. Suggest “bringing” a sketchbook and pencils to draw what inspires each of you as you watch and share these after. Find a virtual field trip here.
Sign up as a PJ Grandparent to receive books for your home during the year. If your grandchildren aren’t enrolled
for PJ Library books, sign them up online. Encourage tweens (ages 8.5-12 years old) to sign up for PJ Our Way.
Visit The Jewish Federation of Greater Washington’s resource center for online opportunities and offerings from local and national Jewish agencies, organizations, synagogues, schools, and more. Our incredible Jewish community is strong, vibrant, and thriving. We will continue to connect with purpose—even when we cannot connect in person.
Download these ideas as a PDF with links.