Entertaining Your Preschooler on Zoom: Tips and Tricks
As the world adjusts to the new normal brought by the pandemic, one thing that has become increasingly popular is virtual meetings and events. While it may be difficult to imagine entertaining a preschooler on Zoom, it’s actually not as challenging as it seems. With the right tools, resources, and strategies, you can keep your little ones engaged and entertained during your virtual meetings or gatherings. In this article, we’ll explore some tips and tricks for entertaining your preschooler on Zoom.
Setting Up for Success
Before you even begin your virtual event, it’s important to make sure you have all the necessary tools and resources. Here are some things you’ll need:
One of the easiest ways to keep your preschooler engaged during a Zoom meeting is by hosting a virtual storytime. Choose a few of your child’s favorite books and read them aloud while sharing the screen. You can also ask your child to choose a book and take turns reading pages. This is a great way to keep your child engaged and to promote literacy skills.
Sing-alongs and Dance Parties
Preschoolers love to sing and dance, so why not incorporate some music into your Zoom meeting? You can choose some of your child’s favorite songs and encourage them to sing and dance along. You can also teach them some new songs and dances. This is a great way to get your child moving and to promote physical activity.
Scavenger Hunts and Show-and-Tell
Another fun activity for preschoolers is a virtual scavenger hunt or show-and-tell. Before the Zoom meeting, create a list of items that your child can find around the house. Then, during the meeting, give your child a few minutes to find the items and show them to the group. You can also encourage your child to bring in a favorite toy or item from home to show the group.
Crafts and Activities
If you have a longer Zoom meeting, you may want to have a selection of crafts and activities to keep your child engaged. There are many age-appropriate crafts that can be done virtually, such as coloring pages, playdough creations, and even science experiments. Make sure to have all the necessary materials on hand before the meeting.
If your child is missing their friends, consider hosting a virtual playdate on Zoom. Coordinate with other parents to schedule a time for your preschoolers to meet virtually. You can set up some of the activities mentioned above or come up with your own ideas. This is a great way for your child to stay connected with their friends and to socialize during these challenging times.
Virtual Field Trips
While it may not be possible to go on physical field trips right now, you can still take your preschooler on virtual field trips. There are many museums, zoos, and other attractions that offer virtual tours and experiences. You can use the screen-sharing feature on Zoom to take your child on a virtual field trip and explore the world from the comfort of your own home
Games and Puzzles
Preschoolers love games and puzzles, and there are many that can be played virtually. You can play classic games like “I Spy” or “Simon Says,” or try out some online games that are age-appropriate. You can also do virtual puzzles together, either by using an online platform or by sharing a physical puzzle with the group.
Mindful and Relaxation Activities
In addition to active and engaging activities, it’s important to also incorporate some mindful and relaxation activities into your Zoom meetings. You can do some simple yoga poses, guided meditation, or deep breathing exercises. These activities can help your child to relax and unwind during a busy day.
Engaging with Others
One of the benefits of virtual meetings is the opportunity to connect with people from all over the world. Encourage your preschooler to say hello and introduce themselves to others in the Zoom meeting. You can also play games like “Two Truths and a Lie” to help your child get to know the other participants.
When hosting Zoom meetings for preschoolers, it’s important to consider safety measures to protect your child and the other participants. Set up a secure and private meeting room, and ensure that only invited guests are allowed to join. You can also use the waiting room feature to screen participants before allowing them into the meeting. Make sure to discuss online safety with your child and remind them to never share personal information with strangers.
Planning and Preparation
To make the most out of your Zoom meetings with your preschooler, it’s important to plan and prepare ahead of time. Decide on the activities you want to do and gather any necessary materials or props. Test out the technology and ensure that your internet connection is stable. Set up a quiet and well-lit space for the meeting and make sure that your child is dressed appropriately and ready to participate.
Flexibility and Adaptability
Virtual meetings can be unpredictable, so it’s important to remain flexible and adaptable during your Zoom sessions. Your preschooler may lose interest in an activity or may become distracted by something in their environment. Have a backup plan or a list of alternative activities that you can switch to if needed. Be patient and understanding if your child needs to take a break or leave the meeting early.
Encouragement and Positive Reinforcement
Preschoolers thrive on encouragement and positive reinforcement, so make sure to praise your child for their participation and engagement during the Zoom meeting. Use positive language and avoid criticism or negative comments. You can also use stickers or virtual rewards to incentivize good behaviour and participation.
Virtual meetings can also be a great opportunity to build community and foster relationships with other parents and preschoolers. Consider setting up a virtual playdate or social event to connect with other families and build a support network. Encourage your child to participate in group activities and games to develop their social skills and form connections with other preschoolers.
Resources for Virtual Activities
There are many online resources available for virtual activities that are perfect for preschoolers. Some great options include virtual storytimes from libraries and bookstores, virtual museum tours, and online classes or workshops for kids. Many websites also offer free printables and activity sheets that can be completed during a Zoom meeting.
Involving Parents and Caregivers
Parents and caregivers can play an important role in helping their preschoolers engage and participate during Zoom meetings. Encourage parents to join in on the fun and participate in the activities alongside their child. Provide tips and guidance on how to support their child’s learning and engagement during the meeting.
Music and Movement
Music and movement activities can be a great way to keep preschoolers engaged and active during a Zoom meeting. You can sing songs, do simple dance routines, or even play virtual musical instruments together. Music and movement activities can help develop gross motor skills, improve coordination, and promote creativity and self-expression.
Just because you’re meeting virtually doesn’t mean you can’t explore the great outdoors! Plan a virtual nature walk or scavenger hunt where your child can search for items in their backyard or neighbourhood. You can also do some simple gardening activities or even have a virtual picnic outside.
Holiday and Seasonal Themes
Incorporating holiday and seasonal themes into your Zoom meetings can make them even more fun and engaging for preschoolers. Consider doing a Halloween costume party, a Christmas sing-along, or a Valentine’s Day craft session. You can also plan activities that relate to the current season, such as a springtime flower craft or a summer water play activity.
Screen Time Guidelines
It’s important to consider screen time guidelines when hosting Zoom meetings for preschoolers. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that kids ages 2 to 5 years old have no more than one hour of screen time per day. While virtual meetings can be a great way to connect with others and engage in fun activities, it’s important to balance this with other forms of play and learning.
Balancing Structure and Flexibility
When planning your Zoom meetings for preschoolers, it’s important to strike a balance between structure and flexibility. Too much structure can be overwhelming for young preschoolers, while too much flexibility can lead to disengagement and distraction. Plan a general outline for your meeting, but also be open to following your child’s lead and adapting activities as needed.
Managing Behaviour and Attention
Managing behaviour and attention during a Zoom meeting can be challenging, but there are strategies you can use to help keep your child engaged and focused. Use visual aids and props to help keep your child’s attention, such as puppets or stuffed animals. Take frequent breaks and switch between activities to prevent boredom or restlessness. Provide clear and concise instructions and expectations for behaviour, and use positive reinforcement and praise for good behaviour.
Encouraging Creativity and Imagination
Preschoolers have a natural curiosity and imagination, and Zoom meetings can be a great way to encourage these qualities. Incorporate activities that promote creativity and imagination, such as storytelling or puppet shows. Provide open-ended prompts and questions to encourage your child to think creatively and independently.
Connecting with Family and Friends
Virtual meetings can be a great way to connect with family and friends who live far away or who may not be able to visit in person. Encourage your child to participate in virtual family gatherings or to connect with friends from preschool. These interactions can help promote social skills, communication, and emotional well-being.
Incorporating Learning Objectives
Zoom meetings can also be a great opportunity to incorporate learning objectives for preschoolers. Plan activities that align with their developmental stage and promote skills such as language development, social-emotional learning, and problem-solving. Consider using props and visual aids to reinforce concepts and provide opportunities for hands-on learning.
Engaging Multiple Senses
Engaging multiple senses can help keep preschoolers focused and engaged during a Zoom meeting. Plan activities that involve different senses, such as sensory play with materials like playdough or water beads, or cooking activities that involve smelling and tasting ingredients. Using props and visual aids can also help engage multiple senses and reinforce concepts.
Adapting Activities for Different Abilities
Preschoolers have varying abilities and may require different levels of support during a Zoom meeting. Plan activities that can be adapted for different abilities, such as using simpler or more complex prompts or providing different levels of support for fine motor skills. Encourage participation and provide positive reinforcement for effort and engagement.
Creating a Positive Environment
Creating a positive and welcoming environment can help preschoolers feel comfortable and engaged during a Zoom meeting. Use positive language and reinforcement, and provide opportunities for social interaction and communication. Encourage active listening and participation and celebrate successes and achievements.
Seeking Feedback and Making Adjustments
Seeking feedback from preschoolers and their parents or caregivers can help you make adjustments and improvements to your Zoom meetings. Ask for feedback on activities, engagement levels, and overall experience, and use this feedback to make adjustments and plan future meetings. Be open to trying new activities and adapting to the needs and interests of your preschooler.
Incorporating Movement and Physical Activity
Preschoolers have a lot of energy and incorporating movement and physical activity can help keep them engaged and focused during a Zoom meeting. Plan activities that involve movement, such as dancing or yoga, or incorporate physical activities like scavenger hunts or obstacle courses. Providing opportunities for movement can also help promote physical development and coordination.
Creating a Theme or Focus
Creating a theme or focus for your Zoom meeting can help provide structure and engagement for preschoolers. Choose a theme that aligns with your child’s interests or promotes a specific skill, such as a science theme or a theme focused on emotional regulation. Incorporate activities and discussions that align with the theme to promote engagement and learning.
Planning for Transitions and Breaks
Transitions and breaks are important during a Zoom meeting to prevent boredom and restlessness. Plan for regular breaks and transitions between activities, and use calming techniques such as deep breathing or mindfulness exercises. Provide clear instructions and expectations for transitions and breaks to help prevent confusion or disruption.
Creating Opportunities for Independence and Decision-Making
Preschoolers are developing their independence and decision-making skills, and providing opportunities for these skills during a Zoom meeting can help promote their development. Allow your child to make choices and decisions during the meeting, such as choosing between two activities or choosing the next topic for discussion. Encourage independent thinking and decision-making, and provide positive reinforcement for effort and engagement.