If you could be invisible for a day what would you do?
Time your chat. Mornings are always better for young children and they will have better ability to pay attention.
Position yourself for eye contact. Use eye contact to connect, and sit close to your screen so they can see your whole face. Eye contact keeps attention and interest. Try mirroring funny faces and playing peek-a-boo.
Engage them with familiar books, songs and toys. Take time to prepare. Before your chat, ask their caregiver what they like to play with, read about, and songs they sing. Think of what props you can use for play. Young children may want to lead the conversation. Caregivers can help by encouraging them to introduce their favorite stuffed animal, or "read" their favorite book to you.
Plan for technical challenges. Plan ahead so your toddler is not waiting. It can take time to address problems with sound, video, or connection issues. Weekends might be best when caregivers are home and have more time. Be prepared for the accidental hang up - that red button is tempting to young kids!
Lower your expectations. Remember you are on 'toddler time' and attention spans are short. A successful call may be five minutes or less. Asking questions and interviewing won't keep them long. Think of yourself as an entertainer, and enjoy your time on stage!
Blog: Tips to engage children when Video Calling
Top Ten Tips
to Engage Children
When Video Calling
Encourage literacy. Share a book, and have them read to you.
Have a coloring match. Use the same color crayon for one minute, then let the other side pick the next color.
Share some jokes. Take time telling riddles and jokes (these are easy to find online).
Build parts of a Lego city. Talk about building a piece of the city at the same time.
Share a snack. Count gummy bears, and talk about colors and flavors. With older kids, talk about nutrition and favorite foods.
Play a game. If you each have the same game, you can play games like Go Fish, Battleship, Yahtzee, Guess Who, or Pictionary.
Share music. Take turns sharing songs. Have fun and laugh while getting some exercise by having a dance party.
Share a story-writing prompt. Each person can add one sentence at a time to make a story! You can also try Story Cubes or Mad Libs.
Ask them to share their day using sound effects and different voices. Talk like a vampire, pirate, or a different character, and discuss your last meal! This can be hilarious.
Be the BEST listener. Children know when you’re really listening. Lean in and ask open-ended questions. Try “Tell me the best part of your day” or Tell me more about that.” Try not to give any advice.