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Best ways to engage with kids over video calls

At Talkabook our creators are experts at speaking with their audiences over video calls. And sometimes those audiences are kids of all ages. Speaking with children can take a little extra effort and finesse, and so we’re here to give you some of our expert advice.

Get excited

When engaging with kids over a video call, it’s important to show your excitement and appreciation to the child and family you are speaking with. Over video calls, voice inflections, facial expressions, and mannerisms can lose their luster more than when in person, so don’t be afraid to go a little over the top. You may feel silly but you’ll come across excited and enthused for the conversation ahead.

Introducing yourself

To a child, you are a new person and that may be scary for them at first. A nice way to break the ice is to mention that you already spoke to their grownup and to talk about things you learned or things you notice.

Examples:

“Your Mom tells me you have a dog named Bear. I love dogs! What color is Bear?”

“I notice you wear glasses, me too! I love your cool frames!”

Reinforce this is “Live”

Video calls can confuse some children where they may think you are a TV show! So say things that make it clear that this is a live conversation and that you hear and see the child. For example, “Oh, that’s such a pretty bow in your hair!” or “I see you have a green shirt, that’s my favorite color!”

Encourage conversation

There are lots of ways to encourage children to engage in conversations that will enrich a video call. Take note of the child’s interests and experiences and mention them. Take turns communicating and give the child time to respond. Ask open-ended questions to encourage the child to think and imagine. And if you feel an open-ended question is causing the child to freeze up, provide some optional answers.

Example: Instead of asking, “What’s your favorite?” or “What’s the best part?” ask questions like “what is one of your favorites, A or B?” or “what’s one of the parts you really liked, maybe A or B?”

Acknowledgment goes a long way!

Allow the participating children to share their thoughts uninterrupted. When a child shares a story or asks a question, respond in a way that shows you are listening and that you think their thoughts are important. This creates a meaningful experience for children.

Some example responses could include, “That’s a great question!,” “That’s interesting!,” “Thank you for sharing,” and “Tell me more…”.

Practice patience and go with the flow

A child may be having a bad day, may become suddenly shy or may ask a question that is way off topic! Just roll with it and when the timing feels right, redirect the conversation back on topic.

Also, note that younger and shy children seem to do better sitting with their grownup during a video call. Feel free to engage with the grownups if the child doesn’t want to talk and the child will most likely appreciate the conversation regardless.


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