More and more grandparents are using Skype video calls (videoconferencing) to stay in touch with their grandchildren, but there are many more that haven’t tried it. If you are one that hasn’t tried Skype video calls to your grandchildren, I recommend you try it.
Skype Video Calls
What you’ll need for each home is to download Skype onto your computer or laptop, the Internet, a good quality web cam (under $80), and a mic. Skype is free to download and use for computer to computer local and international video calls. If you aren’t familiar with Skype or how to use it for a video call with your grandchildren, Skype has an easy step by step instruction page to help you. You can download the software from that page. They also give you step by step instructions on the screen.
Why Others Like Skype
To give you more than just my opinion, I conducted an informal survey at school among my fellow teachers. Many of them use it to stay in touch with their parents, siblings, and friends. They all tell me it is easy to use, even for their parents!
- Mike W., math teacher age 28, actually uses it to check on his grandparents. It gives him ease of mind that he’s able to see his grandparents are in good spirits or sometimes discovers something may be bothering them from his observations during their video call.
- Jonathan S, Programming and Web Development teacher age 33, says his wife who is from Columbia uses it to visit with her mother and brother. They are able to “visit” with Jonathan’s two little girls often. If it weren’t for Skype, they wouldn’t see them more than once a year. They do miss the hugs and kisses, but they are grateful for the opportunities to visit often using video calls.
- Val G, uses Skype to visit with her 6 siblings that live in various parts of the world, including Ireland. Her brother and his family arrived for Thanksgiving with their daughter. Val and her niece didn’t have those awkward, get to know you moments because they had been video calling regularly.
Just download Skype, plan on dates and times to visit via video calls and you’re good to go. Enjoy your grandchildren…it’s the second best thing to being with them.
Grandma’s in the Computer!
When our children were young, they would visit with their distant grandparents via the phone. After the call was finished, they looked into the phone and asked how grandpa got in the phone. It was a difficult concept for them to figure out. They could hear his familiar voice, but they couldn’t see him. We’d have to place a photo on the table in front of his grandchildren, but it didn’t help much.
Our grandchildren are able to see and hear their grandparents in a virtual visit during video calls, but still they are confused about how Nana and Poppy got inside the computer!
Video Call Fun Activities
You can help your young grandchildren be assured it is really you and that you’re not inside the computer…
- If you are using a laptop, spend time in several different rooms during your video call, pointing out pictures of your grandchildren and some of their artwork or gifts they’ve sent you – things that they will recognize that were once in their house and are now in yours.
- Show them some special items that you have collected and will mail to them the next day from your house to their house.
- Point the web cam out the window to show your grandchildren the weather, trees, your car, etc. so they will see there is more to where you are. It will give them a better sense of placing you inside your home instead of inside the computer.
- Ask your grandchildren to show you a specific item that you sent them or gave them the last time you visited.
- Invite your grandchild to show you around the room in their house where the computer is. Then you do the same with the room you are in in your house. If they’re in a room in their house and not in the computer, they may be able to understand you aren’t in the computer but also in a room in your house.
Plan fun activities you can do together during your video calls. Show your grandchildren that you can see them just as they can see you. Make your Skype video calls memorable moments…
- Play copy cat – you do the same move as your grandchild
- Play Simon Says – same idea but they can trick you which will make them feel proud
- Have snack time together – arrange with their mom to have the same snack as the children
- Sing a familiar song together – this can be arranged ahead of time, also – maybe a new song the children have learned
- Read a favorite story to your grandchildren – you could send it to your grandchildren the week before your video call
- Plan a fun food science or nature activity.
Video calls with grandparents and grandchildren provide for great opportunities for pretend play…the possibilities are endless. You can make them special moments for those in between visits.
Don’t forget to throw hugs and kisses to each other at the end!