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There are many things about lockdown that could be hard for kids to deal with; being out of routine, not being with their friends and having to suddenly learn at home with mummy or daddy as the teacher! I have found my own children to be remarkably resilient to all this change. They seem to have just accepted the new normal and gotten on with it, but they do miss their friends. Lockdown friendships are difficult. How do you keep kids’ friendships alive when they can’t see one another especially when they are little? So, in this post I am sharing some of the ways that I have tried to do this.
Aged 5 and Under Maintaining Lockdown Friendships
Let’s face it small children don’t sit and chat they play; they imagine, they mess around and then run about so getting them to stay in touch and stay connected is a difficult thing to do.
As you may know we have twins who are in reception and are in the same class so they are in the very unusual position of having one of their classmates with them. They have an actual friend here so lockdown friendships with their class friends might, in theory, be less important. It is certainly true that they seem to miss their friends less, but it is no less important for me to try to maintain these kids lockdown friendships than for any other children.
It is vital for the girls that they build other relationships outside of their twin bubble and so I have been making efforts to keep the idea of friendship alive even if lockdown friendships are really just memories…
Talking about friends
I talk about their friends a lot. This is a tricky task at times as they have only been at school between September and March and if I am honest I was very much involved in corona virus panic from February to March so I was only just getting to grips with all of the children’s names. Still I try to mention their friends when I can and we talk about whether they think this child or that child might like the toy they are playing with and how we can show them once they can all be back together again.
I must admit these conversations are mostly me… One of the girls seems to have shut down altogether about friends as if to her lockdown friendships aren’t an option. I am sure it is a defence thing so I am also careful not to push too much about their friends. I mention someone and then I move on…
Zoom Class Calls
We have joined in on some of these sessions for the littlest ones, but we tend not to stay on them long as 30 4 and 5 year olds all on the same call is crazy. It is very cute and fun, but crazy. I do think they are a great way of boosting lockdown friendships though or at least the idea that their friends are still there.
Our girls will not be returning to school on the 1st June so they may not get to properly see their friends until September by which point they will have been away from them for longer than they knew them… Believe me this is something I am concerned about, but I just don’t think now is the right time for the schools to reopen so…. I think that by at least seeing their classmates on zoom they will stay familiar with being part of that group.
Playing at having classmates
Our school headmistress has been doing videos of assembly and to the kids this is a link to normality and their usual routine. I think it is fantastic and the kids have been enjoying seeing their headmistress for assembly.
We use ‘going’ to assembly as a time to make believe we are back at school with our friends heading to the school hall on a Wednesday morning. I get the little ones to line up with a call of:
‘come on Reception into line it is time for assembly’
and off we go for a march around the garden as we head back to the lounge to turn on you tube or even view in the garden on the laptop when the weather is being kind.
To make it more ‘real’ the girls bring some friends. They bring their Kindi Kids. We were kindly gifted these and they have become part of our reception class… (you can read our full review of these toys by clicking here)
Not only do the Kindi Kids come to assembly with us, but they are also talk partners during class sessions. I know they have a real life talk partner right there, but who am I to argue. They love their kindi kids and it is, I think, helping to keep them connected to the idea of friendship during lockdown.
Making Videos for their friends
One thing that has worked very well with the girls is making videos for their school friends and then getting videos sent back. They get so excited to see their friends on these videos in a way that they don’t with zoom calls. Perhaps it is less confronting in some way and less hectic than a collection of 4 and 5 year olds all chattering.
The google classroom has also been great for maintaining friendships during lockdown as the girls really enjoy seeing the drawings that their friends have been doing and that also inspires them to have a go too which is that learning from peers stuff in action so certainly useful.
Lockdown Friendships for kids aged 6-10
Friendships become far more important to children as they get older, I am learning… My 7 year old still is not that bothered about not seeing his friends as long as he has his brother to play with, but our 9 year cares desperately that he can’t hang out with his friends and so maintaining lockdown friendships is a big thing.
The good news is though I have found it easier with him to maintain those friendships not least because he can understand social distancing. He gets why he can’t be with his friends properly.
For his birthday we organised a virtual sleepover so my two sons camped in the lounge and had a friend on facetime. Both houses had snacks and drinks and watched the same movie at the same time. The boys loved it and it has been described as the best birthday ever so I totally recommend trying that.
Relaxing Screen Time Rules
One way that older children can connect and still play together is online so ends. As much as I hate the boys spending lots of time playing online games I have relented during this crazy time and they are now able to play two games with their friends. They run a whats app chat alongside the game that they are playing so they can chit chat nonsense whilst they play. It isn’t ideal, but as lockdown friendships go I think it is a great way for older children to stay in touch and feel connected to their school friends.
Now this is not my idea or indeed something I am running, but the lovely Empty Nest Mummy (check her out on Instagram) has been running (#fhool) fake school for a few children from my eldest’s class along with their slighter younger siblings. Everyday she leads a lesson on subjects like Charles Dickens, The Second World War and Kenya to name but a few. I am not saying that everyone would be able to do this as I know I would not have the energy to teach others. I am having enough trouble with mine, but if you, like Martina, are a nicer soul than I then this does work brilliantly.
It is great for the children to hear another teaching voice and for them to have a chance to still be learning with children from their class. I think she already knows, but I, for one, am very grateful for her input.
Seeing friends from a distance
It is not the same, but when my eldest has got down about not being able to see his friends we have done doorstep visits. Well I say doorstep… It involves the child of the other family being inside their house at the front door and us being on the pavement so not even in their front garden until the lockdown restrictions began to be eased. It isn’t the same as usual, but it has made such a difference to him
We haven’t tried this yet, but this weekend my eldest has a quiz night scheduled via zoom. One of the boys in his class is planning the quiz and being quiz master. I think it’s a great idea – again not mine so I won’t take credit! Zoom chats can be so chaotic with kids (and adults for that matter) so having some form of organised fun seems like a perfect plan.
So that’s it… the ways we have tried to maintain our kid’s lockdown friendships. It isn’t easy; this crazy time and I am glad that my kids have got one another (well I am when they are not fighting!!!), but one thing I am sure of is that kids are tougher than we give them credit for and with love and support I am sure that they will all rebuild their lockdown friendships into real life friendships and this will just be a time that they tell their grandchildren about… Or at least that is what I have my fingers firmly crossed for. I hope you and yours are all staying safe.