Zoom Recess For Kids During COVID-19: Fun With Friends

You know that saying you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone? I have that feeling a lot this week. Today, I went to my children’s school to pick up her shoes. There were very few kids, no one outside, no laughter, no organized chaos in the hallway, and it was an eerie kind of silent. This week has been a year and this moment broke me. I burst into tears as I barged out the door before the secretary could hear me sob. My face turned up to the bright sun on what should have a beautiful first day of spring with the sound of kids playing outside was instead filled with the sound of my wail. This is not how it is supposed to be. This is not how anything is supposed to be. Yet we must heed the rules of our new normal so we can #flattenthecurve and that means we stay the fu$k home.

 

When my husband pulled the two youngest out of school early at the end of Monday the children had not prepared to not go back to school. My youngest, who is 9, cried on Wednesday, saying,”Mama, I didn’t even get a chance to say goodbye to my friends.” I cried with her and said I was so sorry but we would have to stay home for the time being as per the provincial health directive and we would have to find other way to chat with our friends–Mama included.

 

Many grown-ups were adapting to work-from-home this week too and tech companies stepped up to make the transition smooth. In my CTV Morning Live segment of March 16, I mentioned how video-conferencing platforms such as Microsoft Teams, Zoom, and WebEx were stepping up with FREE use of their platforms as we pivot our workplaces to home during COVID-19.

 

This got me thinking. Why not do a recess remotely? What could we have to lose. Not much. And it was really easy to set-up and get going. Zoom is a great tool for when parents still need to manage some aspect of technology. I know my older ones are using House Party to connect with video and there is also a Google Chrome extension so they can all watch Netflix in synchronicity together–which is great too.

Here’s what I did to get this going:

  1. Created a Google Sheet where parents could enter their contact information including email addresses so they could be invited to the Zoom meeting.
  2. I already have a Zoom account for work so I created a meeting invitation where the preferences were set to BOTH host and participant(s) screens AND audio ON. It was also set for computer audio ONLY (not a phone number where you would have to call in.) I then copied that link and sent it to all the parents who had responded to the Google Sheet and they were able to forward it to anyone we might have missed too.
  3. Today, once we launched the meeting, we had about 12-13 kids and their parents/caregivers in the video conference. The kids then figured out how to set the background pictures to their preferences and how to raise to hands so they could take turns talking not that that stopped their excitement or joy.
  4. Zoom has a 40-minute limit set for their FREE option (which is open to anyone right now due to COVID-19) so I did warn the kids we might be booted off after that time. They went on for about an hour. They had an absolute blast and it was so great to hear their giggling, cheer, and delight. ❤
  5. You get to enable a WAITING ROOM so you can pre-screen anyone who is coming in lest that be a concern.
  6. Today worked so well we have set another one up for next week. #flattenthecurve #stayTFhome

I know these are unprecedented times. I know we are all trying our best to adhere to social isolation and social distancing. But we are in charge of delicate hearts. Our children are looking to us to be their safe place in this uncertain world and we must endeavour to protect their physical and mental well-being. Connecting via technology allows these kids to forget why they are home even for just a little bit. I think one week in we can agree that rules for screen time have pretty much gone out the window. Let’s cut ourselves some slack as parents and use things like a Zoom recess to be a kid again too. Even if it’s just for a while.

Stay safe, dear readers. ❤

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