Creating a sense of community for the families participating in a virtual live childbirth class presents unique challenges, but it is still possible to foster connections and support among families, helping them to make friends and find peer to peer support as they welcome their little ones. Here are some great strategies that we have found successful for building community in a virtual childbirth class:
1. Preclass Icebreaker Activities
Before the class even starts, invite families to share some information about themselves through a structured activity available for all to browse through online. Consider asking each person to share interesting facts about themselves, or discuss their experiences during the pregnancy so far. Ask five short answer questions that others would find fun to read.
2. Use Breakout Rooms
Breakout rooms in video conferencing platforms allow participants to connect in smaller groups. Assign participants to breakout rooms for group discussions or activities, giving them the opportunity to interact more intimately. Create new groups each time so that participants have a chance to meet different people.
3. Online Discussion Forums
Set up an online discussion forum or platform dedicated to the childbirth class. This platform can serve as a space for participants to connect, share resources, ask questions, and provide support to one another between class sessions. Encourage active participation and moderate the discussions to ensure a respectful and inclusive environment. Consider WhatsApp, or a similar alternative platform that is easy to use on mobile devices.
4. Collaborative Projects
Assign collaborative projects or activities that require participants to work together. This could involve creating birth plans, sharing research on specific topics, or preparing presentations on different topics that they then share with the entire class. Encourage participants to collaborate virtually and share their work with the class, fostering a sense of teamwork and shared accomplishment.
5. Virtual Social Events
Organize virtual social events outside of the regular class sessions. This could include virtual baby showers, prenatal yoga sessions, or informal group chats where participants can connect on a personal level. By providing opportunities for families to engage in non-class-related activities, you create space for them to bond and develop relationships.
6. Peer to Peer Support Networks
Encourage participants to exchange contact information and form peer support networks. Facilitate the creation of smaller support groups or buddy systems within the class. Participants can connect with one another outside of the class to share experiences, ask questions, and provide support throughout their pregnancy and postpartum journey.
7. Incorporate Interactive Tools
Utilize interactive tools within the virtual platform to enhance engagement and community-building. This could include live polls, chat features, or virtual whiteboards. These tools foster interaction, collaboration, and a sense of shared learning.
Building Community in Virtual Classes Is Simple
When you invest a small amount of time and include opportunities to build connection, families benefit. Remember to adapt your teaching methods to the virtual environment and leverage technology to create an interactive and engaging experience. Building community in a virtual childbirth class requires intentional effort, but with the right strategies, you can foster connections and provide a supportive environment for families as they navigate their childbirth journey together.