Zoomography: Talking to kids during lockdown
1. SIDE BY SIDE, NOT FACE TO FACE
We were always big advocates of ‘side by side’ conversation when it comes to connecting with kids. This means being with them and doing something in tandem with them whilst talking – whether it be walking, building with bricks, drawing – as opposed to the more traditional ‘interview-style’ set-up, sat face to face with the interaction revolving around the conversation. It mirrors more closely the way they like to converse with peers, and as a result opens up a more free-flowing, relaxed discussion. And if we can do it in person, there’s no reason for not experimenting with setting this up via video call. Chatting about a child’s favourite character and why they like it might be facilitated by us and them drawing our favourites together – or it can be as simple as just having a colouring-in or jigsaw on the go during the conversation. Crucially, lulls and quiet moments here are okay: they might feel weird to us as the silence-allergic adults that we are, but they’re just part and parcel of how kids naturally interact.
2. TALKING POINTS
Props can be a pretty wonderful tool for fuelling conversations. Again, they’ve always been a part of the Pineapple Lounge package; we typically warm up workshops with kids taking turns to present a special item they have brought in either to a partner or a group. They work so well because they serve the joint purpose of breaking up the intensity of face-to-face (we’re both looking at the prop rather than each other) as well as providing fuel for conversation. As we’ve learned, and discussed, this is more important than ever in the video chat setting. So we’ve been evolving how we prepare our discussion flows to build in props – from ‘show and tells’ of certain items, to scavenger hunts to find things or places in the house to show us or take us to.
3. IT’S NOT VIDEO CALL-OR-NOTHING
Whilst video calls can be a brilliant method for speaking to kids when done right, they aren’t the only means of connecting with them remotely. Alongside our rather busier video call calendar, our use of digital hubs and communities has ramped up too. With that, we’re on a sped-up journey of discovery, learning all the time how best to connect with kids through the screen in a way that they enjoy and find comfortable. We’re continually experimenting with creating tasks for kids to respond to via voice notes, vlogs, letters or postcards, mood-boards, treasure maps, comic strips or survival packs. Autonomy is key here as well; giving them the option to choose how they want to respond to activities, so that it’s on their terms and in a style that matches who they are and what they enjoy.