Below you will find ideas and strategies to support safe and meaningful connection with your Little, whether you spend time together virtually or in person. Consistent connection with your Little is an important way to show you care and support their resilience.
COVID-19 Safety Guidelines for Matches
(revised June 2021)
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, BBBS has updated safety guidelines in alignment with guidance from the CDC and the State of Michigan. While BBBS is shifting many COVID-19 precautions from required to suggested, we encourage Bigs, Littles, and Parent(s)/Guardian(s) to work together, with the support of your Mentoring Relationship Specialist, to ensure that all parties feel comfortable and safe. You are encouraged to enact your own precautions above and beyond our requirements.
The following REQUIREMENTS must be followed by all matches:
- No matter the age of the Little, the parent/guardian must give their approval for each match activity in advance of every outing.
- Matches are not permitted to participate in any activities that do not comply with guidelines provided by the State of Michigan.
- Bigs and Littles should wash or sanitize their hands after touching common objects and before eating, drinking, or otherwise touching their face.
- Overnight visits are not permitted for any match, including matches previously approved for overnights.
- Matches must work collaboratively to ensure that all parties feel comfortable with safety precautions for each planned activity.
The following RECOMMENDATIONS are strongly encouraged, but are at the discretion of Bigs and Parent/Guardians. Bigs and Littles are strongly encouraged to:
- Maintain 6+ feet of social distance throughout the duration of all match activities.
- All Bigs and Littles are strongly encouraged to wear masks for the duration of all indoor activities (including riding in a vehicle).
- Refrain from physical contact, including hugging, high-fiving, and all other forms of appropriate
- Refrain from including additional individuals (especially individuals from a third household) in match activities, particularly when activities are indoors and/or social distancing cannot be maintained.
Open dialogue regarding COVID-19: Decisions about COVID-19 precautions should be collaborative and take into consideration the needs, concerns, and comfort levels of all parties in the match. It is imperative that parents/guardians and Bigs talk openly about comfort levels with planned activities. Comfort levels may change week to week, so be sure to maintain open dialogue. Below are discussion questions that may support ongoing dialogue about COVID-19 precautions and boundaries.
- What activities and settings do you feel comfortable and/or uncomfortable with for match activities?
- What safety precautions could I take before, during, and after a match activity that would help it feel safer for everyone involved?
- What do you expect from me to support your household’s health during match activities?
- Is anyone in your household at higher risk with COVID-19? How can I best support their health and safety during match activities?*
- Is there anything you’d like to know about me/my household’s choices and risk factors with COVID-19?*
*Note: you are not required to disclose any confidential information regarding your and/or a household member’s health. You are invited to disclose if, when, and to the extent that it feels helpful to navigate conversations about COVID-19 safety expectations.
As we navigate these challenging times, remember that you are not alone. Your Mentoring Relationship Specialist is available to assist you in determining how and where to connect, how to navigate sensitive conversations, and how to plan fun and engaging outdoor and/or virtual activities. We’re all in this together.
Please click here for a PDF version of the guidelines.
STAYING CONNECTED WITH YOUR LITTLE
During these challenging times, it is critical that you remain connected with your Little. Many youth are struggling with social isolation, stress and anxiety, all while navigating the challenges of virtual learning. We know these times are difficult, but we ask you to keep showing up for your Little, whether in person or virtually.
In-Person Activity Ideas:
- Go for a walk in the city. Explore your or your Little’s neighborhood, or visit a new neighborhood together. Consider bringing disposable cameras for adventures in photography.
- Go for walk in the woods. Visit one of our many local nature preserves, hiking trails, or county parks. Bring along your or your Little’s dog for added fun.
- Pick up hot chocolate in advance, to make your winter walk a bit warmer!
- Have a bonfire together. Consider roasting hot dogs or make s’mores.
- Grill a meal together.
- Try something new like bird watching or geocaching.
- Get take-out and enjoy it on a park bench.
- Play catch.
- Draw with sidewalk chalk. Consider writing encouraging messages around your or your Little’s neighborhood.
- Go for a bike ride (with helmets).
- When the snow starts to fly, go sledding, build a snowman, or have a snowball fight.
With the colder weather and emphasis on spending time together outdoors, match activities may be shorter than in the past. That’s OK! The important thing is that you continue to prioritize checking in with your Little, and showing up for them consistently.
VIRTUAL COMMUNICATION EXPECTATIONS
If you and your Little’s parent/guardian determine that suspending in-person activities for the time being is the best choice for your match, please be sure to follow these guidelines for virtual connection:
- Communicate with your Little at least once per week. This might be a simple text check-in, mailed postcard, or quick phone call. The point is to ensure your Little knows you care about them, and are available if they need to talk.
- At least twice per month, schedule an intentional virtual activity. This may be best accomplished by setting up a Zoom, Google Meet, Skype, or Webex “meeting” with your Little, so the two of you can spend quality time together, virtually.
- For some Littles, connecting over video conference may be challenging without something to do. Visit our Virtual Match Activities Toolkit for a host of fun and engaging activity ideas. Note: this website was designed for our strictly virtual mentoring program, so not all content will be relevant for you and your match.
As we navigate these challenging times, remember that you are not alone in this. Your Mentoring Relationship Specialist is available to assist you in determining how and where to connect with your Little, how to navigate sensitive conversations with your Little’s parent/guardian, and how to plan fun and engaging outdoor and/or virtual activities with your Little.
VIRTUAL ACTIVITY IDEAS
There are many activities you and your Little can try online together. Remember to check in with your Little’s parent or guardian to make sure they approve of an activity. Interacting with your Little online has to be treated the same way you would treat an in-person activity. If you have any questions please contact your Match Support Specialist.
- If you could live anywhere on this planet and take everything that you love with you, where would you choose to live?
- If you could be in the movie of your choice, what movie would you choose and what character would you play?
- If you could be a superhero, what superpowers would you choose and why?
- Describe your perfect vacation, either a vacation you have been on or one you would like to take?
- What is the best thing that happened to you this past week? What was the most difficult or challenging thing that happened to you this week?
- Describe a time when you felt you did not fit in. What did you learn from that experience?
- Who is someone in your life that you look up to? Why?
- Who was a teacher who influenced you in positive ways? How?
- Describe your favorite place to go in your community and why?
- Describe the neighborhood that you grew up in. What are some of your earliest memories?
- Describe something that you like and something that you do not like about your neighborhood. Why?
- What is your favorite thing about your family?
- What is your favorite family tradition?
- What is something important you have learned from someone else?
- What is something you feel grateful about today?
- If you wrote a book, what would it be about?
- If your favorite animal could talk, what would they say?
- Describe something kind you did for someone else recently.
- What is something you’re really proud of?
- What is something you could do to make a difference in the world?
- If you could achieve any goal, however impossible it might seem, what would it be?
- Create playlists for each other and send them. After listening, talk about why you included the songs you did.
- Invite your Little to teach you a viral dance routine over video chat.
- Watch a live-streamed online concert together, and then talk about it afterwards. A good resource for finding online concerts can be found here.
- Another great resource for finding concerts can be found here.
- Do you have instruments at home? You and your Little could play music together over video chat – a bucket or table can stand in for drums!
- Introduce your Little to a new musical artist who they may have never heard of before and ask them what they think.
- Think you and your Little know your music? Visit Beano to take a music quiz and put your music knowledge to the test!
- Are you and your Little the next great musical composers? Visit Song Maker and create some music of your own.
- If you and your Little were a band what kind of a band would you be? What name would you use for your band?
- Design the front and back of an imaginary album cover with your Little.
Health, Sports, & Fitness
- Select a workout together (yoga, running, etc) and complete it. Afterwards, talk about the workout and create some fitness goals.
- Each of you research your favorite athlete, and then share with each other via phone/video chat what you’ve learned.
- Pick a few sports highlights videos on YouTube, both watch them, and then have a phone call/video chat to talk about your favorite moments.
- Create a name for a fictional sports team and design a logo.
- Watch a sports video online together with the audio muted. Get creative and take turns being sportscasters.
- Explore an online exhibit about Frida Kahlo’s life and artwork and talk about it together.
- Make drawings and share them with each other via text, video chat, or mail.
- Watch a Lunchtime Doodles with Mo Willems video together (via video chat) and both do the Doodles. Be sure to show each other!
- Find a free drawing class to watch together on YouTube.
- Use a comic book template and work on drawing a comic together.
- Visit the Van Gogh Museum online and choose a favorite painting.
- Create your own animated flipbooks and share them with each other.
- Visit the Art and Design Learning at Home page from the Online Schools Center for even more ideas! (Thank you Amelia for sharing this great resource.)
Reading & Stories
- Select and watch an online story-telling video from Kalamazoo Public Library and talk about it together afterwards.
- Both write stories about your experience with social distancing, and then read them to each other over the phone or video chat.
- Tell each other about your favorite story book, and talk about what you have learned from it, or why it matters to you.
- Explore the “Authors Everywhere” YouTube channel and talk about it together.
- Check out these awesome writing prompts!
- Challenge your Little to write a play where you only write dialogue. Then, act it out over the phone or computer.
- Younger Littles will enjoy these online short stories.
- Challenge older Littles to read a book they might not usually choose. Follow-up and ask them what they liked least and enjoyed most.
- Share one of your childhood favorite books with your Little.
- Explore the Field Museum together (via phone, video chat) and talk about it.
- Play an online science learning game and talk about it.
- Explore the Kalamazoo Air Zoo’s online learning page, and talk about it.
- Select a section of Ology’s website, explore the learning there with your Little and then talk about it.
- Explore the resources at Science Kids.
- Looking for an adventure? Send your Little on an expedition through National Geographic 360 Explorations.
- Show your Little the fascinating work of artificial intelligence with this Google drawing activity! Or check out other artificial intelligence activities.
Science & Nature
- Explore an online exhibit about moths and butterflies and talk about it.
- Explore the St. Louis Zoo together (via phone, video chat) and talk about it.
- Both go outside for a Nature Scavenger Hunt and then talk on the phone to share what you found.
- Check out some of the live videos from Monterey Bay’s Aquarium, like the Shark or Jellyfish cams.
- Get your daily dose of Vitamin Z from some of the virtual tours offered by the Detroit Zoo!
- Travel virtually through Michigan and check out some of the wonders we can find right in our backyard.