Okay, so let’s see- new notebooks- check, new stationery- check, new water bottles- check, laptop and charger- check. And we are ready for yet another year of virtual schooling!
Well, yes, as much as we were optimistic about seeing our children go back to school in this new academic year 2021-22, the second wave of COVID-19 has hurled us into yet another year of virtual schooling.
The academic session 20-21 was indeed overwhelming and full of challenges for everyone. Teachers struggled yet endured, parents hesitated yet trusted and partnered with the schools and children responded proactively and adapted to this new form of education in no time. All this was going on with the hope that the pandemic would be over some time soon.
Alas, the pandemic has maintained the status quo.
Various international studies have revealed how this pandemic has adversely affected the mental health of children leading to loneliness, anxiety, depression, and separation anxiety. The absence of social interaction is cited as the main reason behind such issues.
Thus the onus of our children’s socio-emotional wellbeing, education as well as personality development falls on us parents.
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The good thing is, this time we are all geared up and well-equipped with a plan and strategies, incorporating blended learning techniques into our teaching & learning practices.
I would like to share some of my learnings that will equip parents with adequate measures for the academic year 2021-2022. This checklist will ensure children are positively motivated as they start online school and will also build a growth mindset in our children.
Preparing Kids For Another Year of School-From-Home
1. Stick to a Structured Routine, but do not ignore the rhythm
Children need a structured routine. While the school takes care of the academic structure by setting a timetable that they follow daily, parents too must follow a routine at home. Their mealtime, playtime, homework and even TV time must be set. Do not forget to give equal importance to downtime as well as some form of physical activity. This along with adequate rest and sleep will enable children to focus during their sessions at school. It is therefore necessary that parents stick to a bedtime routine also so that children wake up fresh and energetic the next day to attend online school.
However, please be open to accepting any changes in this routine. Those things are inevitable and on such days, try and follow the rhythm of the day rather than stressing about the changed schedule.
2. Build Resilience
The pandemic has exposed us to a range of emotions from fear to anxiety and stress. This makes it imperative to develop resilience in our children to deal with these emotions. Children need to be taught to come to terms with a range of emotions. They also need constant reassurance that things will get better and that together, we will overcome these challenging times.
3. Encourage & Inspire
Since we parents are getting to spend so much time with children during this phase, try and have more conversations with children. Talk about successful people and their struggles, inspiring leaders, about people who succeeded against all odds. Introduce board games, make family anthems.
Often a strict ban on video games, screen time etc can have an adverse effect on your relationship with your child. Figure out a middle way. Use dining table conversations to understand your child’s motivation levels. Even cooking a meal with children helps in cementing a bond with children.
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4. Develop healthy habits
Habits form the foundation of a person’s growth. While most of the habits in children are formed from home and school, the pandemic has been a big destructor in this aspect. Before the pandemic, children had a daily routine going for them. But pandemic threw all that out of the window.
Make a daily plan, the way it would have been if kids were going to a physical school. Develop healthy eating and sleeping habits. Give your child the gift of hobbies- introduce them to skills that can keep up with their mental & emotional wellbeing.
5. Nurture A Positive Mindset
An important factor that helps us accomplish our goals is our mindset. A growth mindset helps us recognize that failure helps us learn, grow, and find success. Our interaction and responses to children’s performances translate into thoughts and beliefs that they form about themselves. Encouraging phrases like “I see you are finding it challenging to complete this. Let us do this together” or “I see you are having a hard time with this. With time, you will get better at it”, opens possibilities and motivates a child to try yet again with more effort and better strategies. Praising, acknowledging, or recognizing the effort that the child may have put in to achieve a certain outcome also works beautifully with children.
6. Deal With Emotions Constructively
Allow children to feel as well as express their actual emotions. Instead of evading discussions about loneliness, sadness, exhaustion, frustration etc, motivate kids to write or simply talk it out. This helps develop coping mechanisms and prevents children from getting depressed or going into a downward spiral.
Let them express their fears and concerns openly. We assume children know we as adults are there for them, but open conversations are simple and natural reminders of the security we as adults can offer in a difficult time
7. Help Kids Create a Designated Workspace
As schools quickly transitioned to online learning last year, parents and kids likely had to throw together a makeshift space for schoolwork. Now’s the time to help kids set up an area that is devoted and conducive to focused, effective learning. Creating separate, quiet workstations for both parents and their children where possible can help alleviate distractions, stress, and conflict.
WE’RE ALL IN THIS TOGETHER
The pandemic has made it clear to many parents that it really does take a village to raise a child. Don’t shy away from asking for help. Remember that you’re not alone in this journey. Check-in with other parents to see what they’ve found effective or to ask if they need help. Share your concerns and useful hints. And most of all, take care of yourself too.