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Contact-Free Greetings For Kids To Use At School With Their Teachers & Friends

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This school year is going to look a heck of a lot different from other years. One major difference is that hugs and many other greetings are off the table, and for little kids, that's harder than you think. Teachers, schools, and other parents are now brainstorming contact-free ways for kids to greet each other at school, and let me tell you, people are getting creative.

I live in a part of New York where hugs and cheek kisses abound even for the youngest kids. This year, with masks and social distancing, that simply isn't an option. It is up to us to teach our children what is and is not appropriate before they even step foot in school. Thankfully our children are prolific and resilient, and to them, this is just one more new thing for them to learn alongside reading, writing, and math. The trick? You need to make these greetings fun. Losing the ability to give hugs and high fives shouldn't feel like the end of the world to our kids, who have already lost so much this year. Instead, we should use it as an opportunity to further their creative capacity and make it something they look forward to, instead of something they feel like they're missing out on.

1. Dance Party

This was legit my daughter's first idea. “We could just do the renegade dance from TikTok at each other," she says. "We all know it, and we are all good at it, and it would drive the teachers nuts because they are so terrible at all the TikTok dances." (Insert eye roll and exasperation.) Teachers, apparently students have found your TikTok pages. Just FYI.

2. Air High-Five

Air high-fives are already funny to begin with, so I am all in on this one. My kids were initially less than impressed with the idea, but when I showed them how, they quickly changed their minds when they realized how positively ridiculous you look when you do it. The trick is, you have to really put yourself out there for the air high-five. You really need to put your back into it and go for the gold.

3. The Floss

If you think that 9-year-olds and younger are no longer doing The Floss dance from Fortnite, you would be wrong. My daughter and all of her friends still do The Floss with alarming regularity, and they think that this is a completely acceptable greeting for one another. Also — not a humblebrag — I am the one who taught my daughter how to do the dance properly.

4. Chin Tilt

Not surprisingly, my 12-year-old son thinks that a chin tilt is the perfect greeting. I don't know which Breakfast Club-type movie he is watching where they're doing this, or when he turned into a 30-year-old Wall Street banker, but he has perfected the chin tilt hello and it both disturbs and depresses me. It's just so grown up, and kind of snobby if I'm honest, but hey, it's a greeting.

5. A Little ASL

OK, this is coming from a completely selfish point of view as I am deaf, but my kids and I agree that the American Sign Language sign for “what's up” is a completely acceptable greeting for people who cannot touch or talk in close contact. (It's also just cool to know in general.) Plus, kids can put their own spin on it just like ASL speakers do.

6. Thumbs Up

A simple "thumbs up" greeting is easy, and gets the point across. It doesn't take a lot of effort, everyone already knows what it means, and there are no corresponding facial cues needed in most cases. It's the most basic of greetings, and is easy for even the youngest of kids.

7. Royal Wave

If you have never practiced your "Miss America" royal wave, then I don't know what you did during your childhood. I would argue that seeing a bunch of kids doing this would be hysterical, and therefore we must encourage them to do so. It's like you're turning a lightbulb, right? I like it.

8. Rock, Paper, Scissors

Kids can play the game from afar, and they can play it throughout the day as they run into each other. It's an entertaining way to keep a dialogue going without needing to be anywhere near each other. Plus, my kids are ruthless RPS players, so I have every confidence they'll love this one.

9. Daily Signs

My daughter likes the idea of making a bunch of laminated signs to hold up to her friends every day, rotating them with her moods. One might be a rainbow with a "howdy," beneath it. One might be a rainbow with Barbie waving below it. One might be a rainbow with an emo squirrel looking angry at the end of it. All notes on a theme, you see.

My son wants you to know that all of his will feature Carol Baskin. He thought this was a very important detail. Again, he's 12 and a feminist.

10. Air Hug

Hold your arms open in the air, your other friend or teacher holds their arms open, and then each person wraps their arms around their own body and squeezes. Air hug!

11. Elbow Bump

The elbow bump has become increasingly popular, and it's easy and perfect for all ages to say, "Hey, I like you. How's it going?"

12. "Have You Ever Heard Of Waving, Mama?"

My son wanted to introduce me to the concept of "waving." In fact, he says that even his baby cousin is already really good at it, and it requires no touching and no potentially awkward game play. "You could even choose your own style," according to him, and, he says, "No one in seventh grade would make fun of you for it."

Unfortunately, he's only just begun seventh grade, so we can't be sure that last statement holds water, but I trust him.