Due to this exceptional situation, do not hesitate to propose Skype sessions to the children. Here are tips proposed by Celine - our educational expert:
Childcare is before all a human interaction and a link between two people. So NO tool, no computer, no Skype can ever replace that. Still, Skype can enable you to maintain the link once in a while with your family and kids and propose very short activities.
For children under 3
This solution is NOT adapted. First and foremost, because most neuroscientists and psychologists agree that children younger than three should not be exposed to screens and secondly, because they live in the “here and now” and would not understand at all that your face appears on a screen without being able to touch you etc.
For children between 3 and 6
Still, it is difficult for them to grasp that you can suddenly “appear” on their parents’ computer...but with a few tips, they can accept it with ease, if well prepared.
Tip 1: take a picture of yourself with your phone in front of your computer and send it BEFOREHAND to the family so that they can show and explain the situation to the child. “Look, it’s Mary/ Gerry and he/she will speak to you thanks to his/her computer even if he/she is not in our house/flat. Great isn’t it? This way, the child may grasp the situation better.
Tip 2: ask the family to desactivate the small screen where the child can see himself/herself. It would disturb their attention.
For children older than 6
You can start having a short “conversation” with very simple questions. You’re the one leading the activity, a child can not do that, even in his/her mother tongue. So prepare a few questions beforehand. “What is your favourite toy at the moment? What’s for lunch today?Look by the window: is it sunny or cloudy? etc...”
1 topic: like 1 song / 1 drawing to do
Parents should be present next to the child for the first session especially for kids 3-6, nearby for kids over 6.
Today we recommend you: SINGING !!!! Sure, parents can look for these songs on Youtube but kids know YOU! So it will come easier if they hear YOU singing this song!
For children between 3 and 6:
A nice short song to distinguish each finger. As a Speaker, rehearse the song beforehand so that when you are online with the child, you can lead the song. Remember he/she has probably never done that before!
Keep cool, it’s a first trial.
When you practice, don’t hesitate to “exaggerate” the gestures and the facial expressions and when you sing it via Skype, make sure your hands’ gestures are very precise and not too fast, you will be in front of a screen!
1. Suggest to the child just to “watch” you while you sing the song”
2. invite him/her to sing it again, with him/her
3. Debrief on the words “this is daddy finger... this is mommy finger etc..
4.Sing again together.
If the child does not sing, don't force him/her or tell the parents not to force them): if they are listening , they are already learning (cf.the absorbent mind of Maria Montessori: kids are like sponges!)
Suggest to the family, if they can, to be present next to the child and sing along, that way it will reinforce the learning.
Propose to redo it again the next day or every 2 days etc…
For children over 6:
Same as little ones, but after ,you can help them to extend their vocabulary :
thumb/index/middle finger/ring finger/ear finger.
--observe in front of your screen each finger: oh this one is short (showing your thumb or ear finger) oh this one is looong (showing your middle finger)
__Action games: Give them actions: can you hide your...thumb? can you move your...index? etc.
Other idéas of activities :
The World Map :
A good idea if you want the children to learn the name of the different countries : if the name of the country is written on it, the child will have to pronounce it properly. If it's not written, make them guess!
Vegetables and Fruits' superpowers and origins:
If you can, ask to the parents to print the other three documents before the Skype. Otherwise, send these three documents to them so that the child can have it with him/her.
You can use these three documents to ask questions about colours, season and months, countries, and teach the vocabulary of vegetables and food to the child. If the parents have vegetables with them, it’s even better, you can ask to the child to tell the colour of a tomato, an apple etc.
Here are the answers:
- Beetroot: all year.
- Almond: september-october.
- Apple : October-March
- Lemon : January-March
- Coconut : November-February
Example of countries :
- Mango : India
- Lemon : China
- Carrots : Afghanistan
- Almonds : Egypt…
If you want to make them learning the origins of ingredients, Download questions here (PDF version)
Missing words quiz:
So your children will ba able to practice English with the babysitter. It consists in sentences with empty boxes that you have to fill out.
You can download here the quiz (Google Doc)
And here are the answers.