In our house we are going with an “all hands on deck” approach. If you have a skill, it’s time to cough up your expertise and share that knowledge with the kids. We have all four grandparents involved, in various, ways to help educate and entertain the kids. Getting the grandparents involved helps ensure a connection with the grandkids – even when they can’t see them face to face. The grandparents have also voiced how much they enjoy having a routine and an activity that interests them each day.

If you are looking for ways to connect your kids with their grandparents (and free up a little time for you to get work done) why not try one of these ideas:

Learn to Play Bridge

Both my parents are regular bridge players. Over the past month, my mom has taught both my boys (9 & 11 years), as well as my 6 year old nephew, how to play bridge. She started with the basic concepts (value of cards and importance of the major suits over the minor suit), then moved onto the strategy in bidding, and finally started playing the game. After 4 weeks of lessons both my boys can play a fairly decent game of bridge.

Write a Family Story

My next door neighbour gave me this idea: create a family story, together. This can involve as many of your extended family as you wish. Each day one family member adds a sentence onto the collective family-story. You only get to see how the story has progressed once the story circles back to you. In our extended family there are 10 of us contributing sentences. Every 10 days the story comes back to me and I get to read where the story has journeyed and add the next sentence. When you have contributors ranging in age from 3 – 75 years rest assured your story will be a bit disjointed and full of silliness.

Master Cursive Writing

When I first saw the handwriting of my mother-in-law I was shocked by how incredibly similar it looked to my own mother’s handwriting. Clearly there was a very specific formula for teaching cursive writing in the 1950s. Did you know that cursive writing is no longer part of the BC Education Curriculum? I’m thrilled that both my boys had teachers who believed it was important to learn cursive, however, not much time was allocated to learning the skill as it isn’t a required outcome for any grade level anymore. I was thrilled when my mom suggested she would help our boys with their cursive writing. While neither son may ever need to use cursive themselves, if they have any interest in reading historical documents, being able to read cursive handwriting is rather necessary.

Learn About One Another

On one side of our family there are four grandkids. Last week we started a fun game. Each day one grandchild records a video of themselves posing a question to the entire family (e.g. what is your favourite colour). Then each family member creates a video response and shares it on the family text stream. The kids get a kick out of receiving videos, from 9 other family members, addressed to them. And all of us are learning a bit about each other. In addition to knowing everyone’s favourite colours, we also know everyone’s favourite movie, favourite animal, and favourite mythical beast. Can’t wait to see the questions we get this week from all the kids.

Take a Drawing Class

If you are fortunate enough to have an artist in your family, ask them to do art lessons over FaceTime with your kids. My dad (a former elementary school principal) is also an artist. He’s taken the kids on virtual nature walks in his backyard to look at different types of trees. He’s done guided drawing lessons of Disney characters. He’s looked at the work of Emily Carr with the boys and studied the indigenous art of Australia with them. If you don’t have an artistically-inclined grandparent (for the record I didn’t inherit one ounce of my father’s artistic skills) there are many online drawing classes family members can do together via FaceTime. Check out Mo Willems, Dav Pilkey, and Rob Biddulph.

Travel the World, Virtually

All four of the grandparents in our family are world travellers. When the kids were little we had a map up on our kitchen wall with stickers showing where the grandparents were at any given moment. But as all of the grandparents are grounded for the foreseeable future, we thought it was a perfect time to share stories and help the kids get a better understanding of the world. Ensuring the kids have a basic understanding of the 7 continents and 5 oceans was day one. Next they will move onto the difference between of countries, provinces, and states. The plan is for the kids to select three countries that fascinate them and put together a research project.

Honestly the options are endless. Everyone has a talent, a skill, something they are passionate about. Now is a great time to share those talents! Survey the family, find out what skills are nestled amongst your relatives and then convince, beg, plead (do whatever is necessary) to get them to share those skills with your kids. Thanks to the team-effort in our family, my husband and I get 90 minutes of uninterrupted work time every day. We are so incredibly grateful to the grandparents for helping us out and keeping the kids engaged, even from a distance.

Looking for more tips on how to keep your kids occupied during the COVID-19 crisis? Find our best ideas, activities and inspiration here!