A five-year-old dressed up as a vampire stood in front of a laptop screen. On the other side was her friend in another part of the town dressed as a fairy. The two girls were pretend playing.
In another home, a six- year-old sat in front of a computer, jotting down a new word she had just heard as her grandmother narrated a story from her home.
The play dates in game zones and at parks have gone online during the lockdown. Technology has been a saviour in many homes as children remain cooped up, unable to go even next door, and parents looking for ways to keep them engaged.
When a three-year-old said she missed playing with her friends in the same building or going out with her grandfather every evening, her mother set up a video call over WhatsApp and the two friends played with their favourite doctor set.
“Children are missing their friends and play dates are a complete no. Now is the time to let children use virtual play. Parents can help them connect with friends online through video calls or group calls,” said Suman Sood, director, BD Memorial, and mentor of the Calcutta, Odisha and Kerala territories of Early Childhood Association, a forum of preschools.
Sood suggested that play dates could be set up through apps where children could play board games and take turns virtually on the board, read aloud together or create art together. “They will make up their own games, share experiences, laugh and play together,” she said.
Parents are also hosting virtual birthday parties to beat the lockdown blues.
“We could not host a party because of the lockdown but when it was time for my two-year-old daughter to cut the cake, we connected online with some of her older cousins and it made all the kids happy and stay connected,” said T. Dasgupta, who stays in Salt Lake.
But it’s not all play and no work for the kids. Some schools are sending out material to parents to keep the little ones occupied.
Bubble Blue Montessori, which has seven schools, will have a storytelling session for children once or twice a week.
“We have spun small stories around vegetable or fruit vendors and those who are collecting garbage and how they are coming to work and making it easier for us while we stay at home,” said principal Nabonita Bose Mukherjee.
Bose Mukherjee has also shared some tips with parents to keep their children occupied while they work from home and simultaneously set boundaries with children.
“All parents do not have a designated office space while working from home and so setting clear boundaries with children can help. A parent can have a thumbs up, thumbs down or whatever works as a signal when one cannot be disturbed. In most homes it is double the work and one has to set a routine,” Bose Mukherjee said.
Some preschools feel it is important for children to be connected with their teachers and friends during the lockdown.
Leap Years preschool in Bhowanipore is setting up a meeting with children aged two to four once a day for half an hour. The kids interact with friends and teachers and also say rhymes.
“It is important to stay connected with their teachers and friends because once the lockdown is over there is a possibility of separation anxiety and it might mean starting all over again with the children,” said Pooja Dugar, director of the school.
Source: The Telegraph