Tag Archives: Skype

Dyslexia, Skype, FaceTime and Google Hangouts

Dyslexia, a specific learning disability, is quite common in children. The prevalence is estimated to be between 10-15 percent of children in the US, although far fewer children are diagnosed.

The child with dyslexia may have difficulty in reading, spelling and performing skills related to the use of printed language. It is thought that dyslexia is an inherited trait which runs in families. It is not low intelligence or laziness.

Children who have dyslexia benefit greatly by reading with an adult. Being a child’s reading buddy is a wonderful role for grandparents or for a parent who is not in residence because of work travel, military assignment, or divorce.

Reading using video call apps like Skype, FaceTime or Google Hangouts you can help a child advance their reading skills. There are also several new apps that can be downloaded either free or purchased that also can make reading fun. Some apps are just for iPad users; however, Ustyme is one that has been developed for both iPad and PC use. http://www.ustyme.com/index.html. Others include Rootz, http://www.family-rootz.com/ and Caribu http://caribuapp.com/.

In the United States schools have a legal obligation to help children with dyslexia. Best results are achieved when dyslexia is diagnosed early, in kindergarten or first grade.
Reading with an adult using video call apps can be great fun. Take turns with the child, each reading one page. Asking questions about the story helps develop comprehension and thinking skills. Learning the sounds that letters make and developing phonemic awareness is important for developing skill in reading. To learn more about the techniques that teachers and tutors use for enhancing reading skills search the internet for Five Big Ideas in reading.

To learn more about dyslexia explore the internet. Two sites I can recommend are:


Have fun reading and share your ideas with me

Skype and Your College Student

Using Skype is one of the best ways to stay connected to your college age children & grandchildren. My Mom always said “you never stop being a parent”. Those words have repeated in my mind many times over the years. However, in addition to the trials of being a parent we also get to enjoy the joys of seeing our children’s successes as they head off to college.

Along with typical college supplies, today’s students are bringing Skype to college with them on their smart phones and computers. Colleges are developing Virtual Advising Centers. Once the teen becomes a student on campus, virtual appointments can be scheduled with their assigned advisor.  Skype is also developing a Resident Advisor Program where students can ask questions and share information with other students.

Most high school students have learned to connect with peers electronically. Now you will want to transfer that skill to staying connected with family. Telephone calls are fine but they can’t compare with actually seeing the person you miss being with. Facial expressions provide clues to feeling that may not be expressed.

Show and tell is still a favorite activity for students as they go off to college. The dorm room, the crowd at the football game, and a new friend are all fun for parents to see on Skype. Younger siblings who miss their older brother or sister can connect in this  special way.

Most important is to discuss how, when and how often you and your student will communicate so that you are not disappointed, and the student has the opportunity to learn to become independent.

Skype and The Teen Book Club

Communicating with teens is not always easy. My friend Janet recently told me about the Book Club that she started with two teenage grandchildren who live in different households.

One of the best ways to connect with young children during a video call is to read a book. As children get older they will be excited to read a book to you. Discussing books that teens have read and enjoyed is a great topic for video chat.  Janet uses the Skype group call feature so that she and the two teens, who live in different states, can meet together to share their thoughts about a story. The Club meets every two weeks during the school year and more frequently during school vacations.

While checking Amazon and Barnes & Noble online I discovered Anita Silvey. This author has published several book guides for children and teens including 500 Great Books for Books for teens192x300Teens published in 2006. Both websites will give you ideas for books for children & teens. Also, check with the experts at your local bookstore and library.

Janet shared that one of the favorite reads for her online Book Club was The Book Thief, a book that I enjoyed myself but thought of as an adult book. When I researched the book I discovered that it has won numerous children’s book awards including the School Library Journal Best Book of The Year, Publisher’s Weekly Best Children’s Book of The Year, and Book Sense Book of the Year Award for Children’s Literature.  Incidentally, the book was made into a movie which also was an award winner. Now Janet plans to watch the movie with the two teens the next time they get together. A Movie Club may be in the making!

Contact me and share your video call ideas

Share Books With Sound With Skype and FaceTime

One of the activities all my grandchildren love to share on Skype is reading books with Dinosaur350sound. It all began when I purchased Dinosaur written by Mark Radar and illustrated by Casey Sanborn. Dinosaur, whose name is Stegosaurus, is searching for his friend Frog. There is a button to make the sound of Stegosaurus, a second button to hear Stegosaurus stomp as he searches and a third button to hear Frog. What child doesn’t enjoy a game of hid and seek!

“Grammy, read Dinosaur.” All my grandchildren began to request that I read this book. When they came to visit the book was there for us to read together and it was enjoyed as an old familiar friend. Since that time I have added other books with sound. Roger Priddy has written many including Noisy Trucks. Others include Polar Bear, Polar Bear by Bill Martin and Around The Farm by Eric Carle. Consider reading books with sound as they have great appeal to children 16 months to school age.


It’s so much fun to share your love face-to-face with those you are separated from. Skype and FaceTime can help you to give the best Valentine’s gift of all. It’s easy and it’s free! Almost all computers come with a video call application (app). Apple computers come with FaceTime and those using Microsoft Windows come with Skype. You can download Skype to any computer if you don’t have it.

Parents and grandparents separated from the children they love can talk about what love is and their love for the child. “Daddy loves you and I’m so happy to see you on this special day.” Read to the child one of many children’s books with a Valentine’s theme, here are just a few:
Curious George via-amazon

Happy Valentine’s Day, Curious George by N. DiAngelo and Mary O’Keefe Young

My Fuzzy Valentine (Sesame Street) by Naomi Kleinberg and Louis Womble
Amelia Bedella3

Amelia Bedelia’s First Valentine by Herman Parish and Lynne Avril

The Story of Valentine’s Day by Nancy Skarmeas  Valentine's Day


Don’t forget to blow a kiss when you say good-by. Even very young children enjoy catching your kisses and sending their love to you with a kiss on a video call.





Communicate with Teens Using Skype & FaceTime

If the teens you want to stay in touch with are reluctant to communicate try Skype or FaceTime. My friend Barbara recently told me that her teen grandchildren were communicating less often than when they were younger. Then she discovered Skype and began to enjoy the video chats so much more than telephone calls. Being able to see expressions and changes as children grow – and grow up – is a precious gift. With video chats parents and grandparents who are separated from their children can continue to play an important role in providing guidance to teens if they continue to be available to communicate on tough issues.

In my book Learn To Video Call With Children I provide examples of open-ended questions that will get more than a yes or no answer. The questions are appropriate for all ages, including teens. Some examples are: Can you tell me what you know about that? What is the best thing that happened today? What is the worst thing that happened? What do you think you should have done?

Growing up isn’t easy. Many teens assume that parents and grandparents don’t understand them – and sometimes we don’t. It is not unusual to experience a disconnect with teens. Some key points that you can consider when video calling with teens:

1. Listen and try to understand without confronting, even if you disagree.
2. Keep your comments short and don’t lecture.
3. Ask questions to explore thoughts & behaviors before making assumptions.
4. Be willing to praise rather than criticize.

Here are some webpages with other suggestions:




Send me some of your favorite stories about communicating with teens using video call.

Kids, Jokes, Skype & Facetime

Have you tried telling jokes on Skype or FaceTime?  In March I blogged about how much children enjoy jokes. If you haven’t seen that post check out March 12, 2014 for some examples of kid friendly jokes. I just discovered Rob Elliott’s book LAUGH OUT LOUD JOKES FOR KIDS. Elliott includes Question & Answer jokes, Animal jokes, Knock Knock jokes, Tongue Twisters and some funny questions to think about.

In the Knock Knock jokes section there are jokes with children’s names. If the child that you video chat with is named Anna, Samantha, Lee, Cameron, Stan, Ada, Wendy, Dewy, Megan, Hugo, Fanny, Owen, Luke, Raymond, Sadie, Woody, Dawn, Rockefeller, Dora, Braden, Gary, Hanna, Beth, Vera, Aldon, Arlo, Mia, Shelby, Henrietta, Moe, Willie, Ernest, Eileen, Taylor, Brett, Dewy, Gwen, Joanna, Archie, Duncan, Carson, Ben, Doug, Collette, Sarah, Ida, Oscar, Dawn, Beth, Shelby, Olive, Ken, Ivan, Dwayne, Walter Justin, Wanda, Everest, Rufus, Candace, Shirley, Bonnie, Andy, Isabel, Benjamin, Les, Bailey, Baldwin, Calvin, Colin, Conner, Jim, Mike, Barry or Carrie there is a Knock Knock joke in Elliot’s book for that name – Wow!!

If you didn’t find the name of your special child or grandchild t this book will give you a lot of ideas so you can make up your own personalized Knock Knock joke. Have fun!

Share your video call ideas with me –  ltibbles@videocallwithkids.com

Free Skype Group Video Calls

shutterstock_124710580Did you know that Skype group calls are now free for all members? In the past a Premium Skype Membership was needed to make group calls so this is exciting.  All Skype members can now make calls to more than one contact at the same time. While you are on a video call you just add another contact for a group call. Select the group icon; a list of contacts will appear. From the contacts tab, click and hold on the contact that you want to add to your group call and drag that contact to your group space. Repeat the process for all you want to include in the group. All contacts must be signed in to Skype to be added.

You can also set up a family or friends group in advance of your call by clicking on the Group icon and selecting the group members from your contacts. Skype recommends that for the best quality, add no more than five others to your call, although a total of ten users is possible.  There are alternate ways to create a group so your might take a look at different options at www.support.skype.com and select the process that works best for you.

Share your video call ideas with me

Happy Holidays with Skype and FaceTime

Celebrating holidays is great fun with apps like Skype and FaceTime. Watching youngsters participate in favorite traditions while making a video call is almost like being right in their home.shutterstock_156961679
Here are a few suggestions to help you celebrate:

  • Help to decorate a Christmas tree by mailing a few ornaments and watch as they are placed on the tree; set up the Nativity scene while family members are present during  a video call.
  • During Hanukkah enjoy the Menorah tradition by lighting the Shamash and then the appropriate candle for that day; children will enjoy spinning the dreidel. 
  • Participate in the rich African cultural traditions celebrating family, friends and community during Kawanzaa. Create a mkeka (Kawanzaa mat) and place the holiday symbols on or near the mkeka. Help to build tolerance for others by teaching children about holiday traditions other than your own. 

While on Skype we sing holiday songs and watch the smiling faces of our excited grandchildren. They run to get the artwork that they produced and bring it right to the webcam so we can see it clearly and shower them with praise. Scholastic has published a series of Rookie Read-About Holiday books with titles for more than fifteen different holidays. Read a book together during the holidays. All this is possible when you learn to Skype or FaceTime.
Send me your favorite holiday ideas!

Halloween With Skype and FaceTime

BatmanGive yourself a Halloween treat with Skype and FaceTime.  My children, now adults, loved Halloween and now I am excited to see the wonderful playfulness in my grandchildren as they prepare for the big day. Fall is a great time to make video calls. A trip to the pumpkin patch for the perfect pumpkin can be shared with a video call. Children can’t wait to get their hands on (and in) that pumpkin. After carving, the face that emerges as a Jack-o-lantern is magical to children. When it glows in the dark it’s even more fun. Excitedly, they ask to make a video call to show others their pumpkins and their costumes.

One grandson will be a dinosaur, another will be a superhero – it’s fun for them to dream about what they would like to be and to learn that they can be whatever they would like to be. You can’t see the grins, pumpkins and costumes during a telephone call but you don’t miss any of it with a video call.

October is a time when parents and grandparents can share the fun of Halloween. Children can practice their good manners as they respond with a thank-you when they receive a treat. They can gather in groups with friends and neighbors, be silly, giggle, and smile at compliments about their costumes. If your are not living close enough to be with a child that you love on Halloween, share a video call and have some fun.

Share your Halloween treats using Skype and FaceTime with us