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Helping Kids to Play Safely Together at a Distance

by Meghan Fitzgerald

After April was the first time we decided it was safe to try to visit with our grandparents again. As much as we were all desperate to hug them, we were really clear with the kids that, out of love for them, we must try our very best to keep “social distance.” We were pretty worried. How were we going to actually keep our kids, who have grown up cuddling these beloved people, from running up right away? Or what were we going to do and say when they, inevitably, inched towards their grandparents?

At the very same time, as a team at Tinkergarten, we were deep in research and design to answer similar questions to support families all over the country. How can kids learn to play safely together in this new context? How can we support them in feeling connected and staying playful while they learn to maintain a 6-foot bubble between friends and family?

Driven by a strong belief that figuring this out was actually what our kids need more than anything, we amassed and invented a set of tools to teach kids to play and be safe with others. These tools helped our family in several reunions with grandparents, have made possible socially distant outdoor playdates and get-togethers, and have been used with great success by friends who’ve tried them out, too. It is a beautiful thing to see how capable kids are at learning to play safely together again—and, even more so, how much it means to them to have that chance.

Below, we share links to various tools and techniques with a bit more about the design behind each and simple directions about how you might introduce and reinforce them with your child:

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