How Can Children Socialize During a Summer Pandemic? - Nemours Blog


How Can Children Socialize During a Summer Pandemic?

How Can Children Socialize During a Summer Pandemic?

Your family’s summer plans during the COVID-19 pandemic have likely been canceled or at least shuffled around. In the first part of a series of frequently asked questions (FAQs), below are answers and ideas about how your children can socialize during the summer and out-of-school months.

Can my children have playdates?

For social distancing to truly work, there shouldn’t be playdates, especially inside your home. The best option is still to do a virtual playdate via FaceTime, Zoom, or Skype. A good compromise is an outdoor playdate, where you can keep that six-foot distance. Get a few kids together for a bike ride or hike.

Remember to have rules:

  • be sure that kids over 2 years wear face masks when possible
  • make sure that they wash their hands with soap and water or use hand sanitizer.

If you decide that an indoor playdate is a good choice for your family, try to keep it to one friend and make sure that they’re not showing any signs of sickness before coming into your home. Also, ask if their family members or close contacts have any symptoms.

There are lots of ways for your family to get creative with playdates! Games like soccer, corn hole, badminton or tennis, croquet, bike riding, or even miniature golf are great outdoor activities that are fun and also ways to keep physically active.

Can my children visit their grandparents?

Close contact between your children and their grandparents during a pandemic could be risky. Older adults — and people of any age who have serious underlying medical conditions like heart or lung disease or diabetes — are at higher risk for getting sick from COVID-19. In fact, eight out of 10 deaths reported in the U.S. have been adults 65 years and older. And don’t forget that children can spread germs.

You can make sure during these times that your kids remain connected with their grandparents. Some fun digital connection options?

  • Scheduled Video Calls: Schedule times to connect throughout the week. Choose a day when all cousins can join in, too.
  • Learning and Games: Have grandparents take over being the teacher for your kids every week. They can read books together, play games, or for older kids, talk about history or social issues. What about dance lessons? Then both grandparents and grandkids can get moving!
  • Family Meals: If grandparents are close by, cook up some food for them and bring the kids by to drop it off from a distance. Then, log onto your chosen video platform and enjoy a meal all together. For longer distances, another option is sending grandparents food via delivery or mail service and breaking bread together virtually.
  • Physical Activity Time: Just like outdoor playdates, grandparents can join children in some active time outside. Social distancing walks, picnics, or gardening together can be great options to stay connected.
  • No Digital Option? If grandparents don’t have access to digital options, set up a weekly phone-call time. You can also have the kids and their grandparents become pen-pals. Children can create cards and special art to share back and forth with the older adults in their lives.

Can we go to the movies?

Depending upon where you live, movie theaters may or may not have reopened. Most of these businesses will be taking safety measures seriously when they begin welcoming back guests. Remember that theaters are crowded and high touch, which increases the risk of infections for the whole family. Instead, try movie marathons or nights with the kids at home. Play it up and make tickets in advance, serve buckets of popcorn, and add in some sweet treats like berries!

Can we go to the playground?

In communities where there is ongoing spread of COVID-19, playgrounds are hard to keep safe. They may be crowded, making it difficult to keep a social distance. It is also difficult to keep the equipment and facilities clean between use.

If you decide to take your children to a playground, talk about rules for safety:

  • maintain a six-foot distance from people you don’t live with
  • wash hands/use hand sanitizer
  • wear a cloth face covering if possible.

An alternative option could be to try a state part or recreation area that offers non-touch activities like hiking, biking, or swimming areas. Check with these parks in advance to prepare safely.

Can my children go to summer camp?

Many summer camps for 2020 have already been canceled, but if you’re still considering sending your child to a camp, the CDC has offered guidance to protect campers, staff, and communities to prevent the spread of COVID-19. The camps with the lowest risk will have small groups of campers who stay together outside all day every day. They should remain at least six feet apart and not share objects. All campers should be from the same local geographic area. Overnight camps are not encouraged.

Don’t forget the sunscreen if your children are at summer camp! Use a broad-spectrum sunscreen with at least 15 SPF.

In part two of this series, we’ll discuss FAQs about taking your children to the doctor, dentist, and for vaccines; travel and public transportation safety; haircuts; and back-to-school information.

Kate Cronan, MD

Dr. Cronan is a pediatric emergency attending physician at Nemours Children's Hospital in Wilmington, Del., and a medical editor at Nemours Children’s Health Media.