With the recent COVID-19 outbreak, many families are practicing responsible social distancing. Parents are faced with the challenge of keeping kids occupied for weeks, or possibly longer, while avoiding group play dates and public places. Gifted children, by nature of feeling intensely about social issues, may be hyper-aware of the current pandemic news and might feel great empathy or anxiety about such a global concern. It is important that adults take time to monitor the social and emotional health of our gifted and talented children during periods of social distancing.
Social distancing doesn’t have to mean a total loss of human connections, as videos of quarantined people in Italy singing to each other from their balconies well demonstrate. We can still reach out and form interpersonal bonds, while keeping our community safe.
Here are 8 tips for staying connected with the world while practicing social distancing:
1. Call or video chat with family and friends
Use technology like Skype, FaceTime, or a traditional phone call to keep in touch with friends and family. Share your feelings with each other. Or, reprise history…handwrite a letter—include a poem or essay on your feelings about the current situation.
2. Stay active
Keep your physical distance from others, but if possible, go outside at least once a day for fresh air and a change in scenery. Exercise is good for relieving stress as well as for health and fitness. Yoga and other forms of meditation can be calming for the whole family during anxious times.
3. Start a virtual book club
Reach out to other parents and try to arrange a virtual book club for kids. Look for books that are available online as e-books or audiobooks and that can act as bibliotherapy, dealing with related topics of concern to your child. Discuss a schedule and meeting time for students to discuss the books via video chat software like Skype.
4. Try to keep a schedule
Many kids, and adults for that matter, thrive with a daily routine. If your gifted child does best with a structured schedule, try to maintain a comforting sense of normalcy by establishing new routines while practicing social distancing.
5. Bond as a family
Sometimes the most meaningful connections happen when you unplug. Play trivia games as a family, break out the board games, or write and act out your own play or movie. It’s important to continue to encourage creative thinking in gifted children. It doesn’t hurt the grownups either.
6. Learn something new
It’s a great time for gifted children and teens to practice learning new skills. Is your gifted child interested in music theory? Learn about intervals, chords and more online on websites like musictheory.net. Practice learning a new language with free apps like Duolingo. Learn how to knit, paint, draw and more through helpful YouTube videos. The possibilities are endless.
7. Encourage exploring topics of interest
Some gifted students may be fascinated by the science of these current events. While it is important to monitor anxiety levels, some may feel comforted by researching the science and history of pandemics. Engage in analysis of current efforts locally and globally to deal with the pandemic. Discuss your child’s potential interest in careers in medicine, public health policy, or crisis management.
8. Virtual field trips
While major museums and places of interest are currently closed around the world, many offer virtual tours for free. Here are a few virtual field trips for gifted children while they are stuck at home:
- Yellowstone National Park
- The Louvre Museum
- The surface of Mars (recorded by NASA’s Curiosity rover)
- San Diego Zoo
- Arconic’s Advanced Manufacturing hub
These are trying times for all people around the world. Monitor your children’s anxiety levels and do your best to support each other as a family – and community – during this time of uncertainty. Remember, gifted children may experience emotional intensity, so take time to listen to their thoughts, opinions, and feelings. Be non-judgmental, accepting, and appreciating their sensitivities during this challenging period, as well as always.