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April 8, 2020

Grammar with Grandma

Well maybe not grammar – my little one is just six! – but spelling and mental arithmetic. Since he was a few weeks old, my son has been lucky enough to see his grandma and grandad every week. Every Monday without fail!

So when the government guidance came into force, it was with a heavy heart that we all had to admit that for a few weeks (dare I say months) our little routine would change, and any contact would need to be through the telephone or FaceTime. Grandma and Grandad have taken this on the chin and have gotten to grips with Skype quickly. They are stoically trying to make the best of it.

This isn’t exactly the same case for my children: at six and three they struggle with social niceties, pretty much all of the time. When we tried to instigate a conversation – ‘Henry come and talk to Gran?’ – he’d either ignore the request or stick his tongue out. Wonderfully polite are children! When a friend suggested the grandparents deliver a teaching session on Skype, I initially scoffed – my child would never sit still for that! But desperate times call for desperate measures, and we were willing to try anything in the vain attempt to teach Henry anything and get him to sit still. From the first attempt they all loved it. Henry is super studious and sits with his ‘busy book’ diligently waiting for Grandma and Grandad to test his spelling. Grandma and Grandad look forward to the dedicated time as much as Henry: an enjoyable hour spent daily with grandchildren on Skype provides a good focus for the day. It’s something to plan in advance, such as spelling and how many animals can be named, and it keeps us all occupied and in touch in such difficult times.

Even after the lesson, I can hear Henry divulging family secrets in his private conversation with Grandma and Grandad: ‘naughty Aunty Catherine, she ordered me a present when mummy told her not to’. These sessions bring a wonderful sense of connectedness in a time when we, as a family, feel very disconnected. I am sure are creating magical memories for both generations.

You can find ideas online for how to connect younger children with their grandparents during the current social distancing. Gransnet suggests setting children a challenge or playing guessing games and their ideas for long-distance grandparenting are also worth a look.

Another source of fun activities for different age groups that can be adapted to use over Skype or other online tools, is educational publisher Oxford University Press. Their Oxford Owls website has lots of ideas, such as language and maths games, reading e-books together on screen and lots more.

Hillary Wadsworth
Time to Shine Programme Manager (Learning)