With schools reopening soon, and all sorts of arrangements are being made by schools to accommodate social distancing in efforts to keeping children safe, we are again faced with the challenge of school days, and “home-schooling” days. Various schools are again implementing the ‘alternative days’ or ‘alternative weeks’ of schooling for the children, or even complete online schooling at home, in order to comply with COVID regulations.
Where schooling used to be well-structured, a well-developed routine and very predictable days, we are now faced with juggling work and schooling at once, being a mom (or dad), an employee and a teacher all in one day. What a daunting task??
Here are some ways you as parent can support your child with the ‘new-normal’
- Establish vital routines
Focus on keeping to routines such as bedtime, wake time, bath time etc. even on ‘home-school’ days. Don’t fall into the habit of sleeping late or going to bed late because tomorrow in not a school day. Ensure a proper breakfast to kick start the day. Create a space at home that is conducive to learning, where school work and studying can take place. Create a balanced structure of learning time and recreational time with enough breaks that allow playing during the day.
- Focus on a variety of skills
Children are often affected most by the regulations of the pandemic. Children need physical touch, outside play, they need to move around and interact with others. It is thus important to focus on the holistic spectrum of skills when schooling at home. Integrate physical, social-emotional, sensory, cognitive and communication skills in your day-to-day interaction with your children. Allow time outdoors, where physical play and activities can be played. Play games where children can engage physically and be stimulated. Children need to be able to express themselves emotionally, you need to be there and listen actively. Encourage expression of feelings, and be expressive yourself in order to set an example to our child.
- Checklists are important!
Returning to school after almost 2 months of school holidays can imply a big change in routine (again, just like after the 2020 lockdown period). Prepare your child mentally with what they can expect of the coming days. Inform them how the mornings will work, how school will work, how will the alternative days work. Make visual charts or lists of what they can expect to happen on which days. Use colourful calendars, lists, pictures etc. to make it fun for your child. This will reduce some anxiety and prepare your child for the transitions that might be coming up.
- Use planners and calendars
Encourage your child to use a planner, a diary or calendar to jot down class days, home days, all assignments, tests etc. Make it visual and colourful. This will allow your child to learn to plan ahead (and allow you to plan your days as well)
- No cramming!
No cramming the night before a test or exam. Plan for learning days with incremental periods of learning. Take regular breaks where some physical movements should be encouraged. Make use of colours and flash cards to help your child’s brain make connections and associations. Don’t allow your child to stay up at night, encourage a full night’s rest.
Attempt to include proteins and carbs in every meal provided to your child. Provide regular healthy snacks and stay away from sugars and colourants. Encourage good hydration, as it is vital for your child’s brain & learning abilities.
- Remove distractions
Remove all distractions, especially from your study area. Put away cell phones, and switch off televisions during study or schooling days. Monitor your child’s screen time & cell phone use during the week in order to eliminate distractions from learning.
- Set smaller goals
The younger your child, the smaller goals you should set for your child. By reaching a variety of smaller goals, you are fostering an “I can” attitude with your child. Celebrate each goal or milestone, this will boost confidence and self-esteem. Children need every bit of encouragement! Try to focus on understanding of the schooling material, not just completion of the work. Review your child’s homework and school work in order to stay up to date, and attempt to keep your child up to date with his work.
Remember, it is hard. Juggling everything between work, school and keeping the house standing is no easy task! Your relationship with your child remains the most important aspect at this stage, you are a mother (or father) first, prioritise it as such.