Digital Parenting
January 16, 2023

5 ways to connect with long-distance grandparents

You don’t need to wait for an in-person visit with the grandparents to help them connect with grandkids. Here are our top five tips for long-distance families.

Quality time with grandparents is precious for grandchildren because it’s full of unconditional love and provides a connection to family history and culture. And while visits with grandma and grandpa are the obvious way to build these meaningful bonds, many of us can’t get together in person as often as we’d like.

For many families, busy schedules and geographic distance get in the way of more regular visits between generations. And while traditional video calls can help you keep up with adult family members, anyone who has tried to make a FaceTime call with a small child knows that it can feel like a losing battle. Kids learn through play, and traditional chats or video calls can make it hard to replicate the spontaneous energy, laughter and antics that happen so naturally in person. But with a little thoughtful planning, grandparents and grandchildren can grow a meaningful relationship no matter the distance. Here are our top five ideas for connecting with long-distance grandparents.

Share in story time

Reading together can be an amazing way for grandparents and grandkids to connect. While it’s a little bit more challenging to enjoy story time from two different locations, with a little advanced planning, you can include the grandparents in this activity fairly seamlessly. If grandparents are already comfortable with video conferencing tools, they might be able to share a PDF of a book during a video call with grandchildren. You can find a selection of free stories on websites like FreeKidsBooks.org, and public libraries often have digital books for loan. Letting kids know ahead of time that they’ll be enjoying digital story time with grandma or grandpa can help set the expectation that they’ll be reading together.

If grandparents already own a smartphone or tablet, an app like Together can be a wonderful solution for story time. With hundreds of books pre-loaded, grandparents and grandkids can easily enjoy reading during video calls in this purpose-built platform.

Books are a wonderful way for generations to connect because you can choose the ones that appeal to both the reader and the audience. There are stories for every interest under the sun, and you can take turns readings the ones that light you up. When both adults and kids are interested in the subject matter, story time is that much more fulfilling.

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Send a pre-recorded video

If busy schedules or different time zones make it difficult to find a time to connect, sharing pre-recorded videos with each other is a great option. Asynchronous communication lets you put together messages when it works for you, and this can allow you to share parts of your day that you might not be able to otherwise. Making a video during playtime, snack time or bedtime can give grandma and grandpa a glimpse of your daily routine—or you can plan a special activity to record.

Grandparents can also get creative with pre-recorded videos and share special family recipes or showcase a special talent. They can also share special memories or stories from when they were growing up. Encourage your kids to think of anything they might want to learn about—like special family history or stories from their grandparents’ childhood. These can be a great jumping-off point for connection!

Play a game together

Nothing engages kids better than a bit of play! While it’s easy enough for grandparents to get in on playtime in person, it can be just as rewarding to enjoy a friendly game remotely. Search ahead of time for kid-friendly two-player games that can be enjoyed on different computers. Or, explore the amazing selection of games in the Together app.

Playing games together is not only fun, it’s a great learning opportunity. Kids can practice turn-taking and sportsmanship—and if they’re already into gaming online, they can “be the expert” and show grandparents around their favorite online platforms.

Learn something new

One of the most amazing things about spending time with kids is that you get to see the world through their eyes. Every day, they’re discovering something new—and when you get swept up in that excitement with them, it’s a great way to connect.

Whatever children are currently into—dinosaurs, planets, trucks, bugs—make a point of exploring that topic together. Platforms like Kinzoo Together give you the chance to learn something new during a video call. You can also find games, toys or stories related to their passion, and share them during a video call. Or, choose an educational Path in the Kinzoo Messenger Paths Center to follow along together and chat about.

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Have fun with snail mail

Even with incredible digital technology at our fingertips, it’s still an old-school thrill to get something special in the mail. Creating a special piece of art or putting together a care package is a fun activity for both sender and receiver—and it gives everyone a chance to get creative. And when your special parcel arrives, you can even create your own unboxing videos and share your reaction with each other.

Even if grandparents and grandchildren are far away from each other, they can still build close relationships and create meaningful memories together. With a little planning and creativity—and the help of the right tech, you can include grandparents in playtime, story time and special family occasions.

Image credit: eggeeggjiew / Getty Images

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