Remember when kids gathered in their own homes with parents close at hand to pop the corn, tip the pizza delivery person and dole out the occasional advice in the kitchen (‘what can I do to make the girl I kicked in pre-K understand we’re in eighth grade now and I’ve evolved?’).
One way to encourage eye-to-eye, face-to-face interactions among tweens, in particular, is to welcome them into your own home. Consider sending an invite at the beginning of the school year for an ongoing event your tween can host at home (and send reminders a week ahead).
You might pick a handful of mid-week school closings (election day, staff development day) to host a n open house inviting kids to drop in anytime throughout the day to play Capture the Flag, Settlers of Catan, Dungeons and Dragons, Basektball, Creature Clash etcetera. Or establish a ‘First Friday Film’ night by chosing a particular theme (Westerns anyone?) or by matching the seasons with classics like The Great Pumpkin for Halloween, The Grinch for Xmas, Mothra vs. Godzilla for Lunar New Year, etc. (We happen to have a professional graphic designer in our house, but let your kids draw their own invites!)