By PHILIPPA FABBRI
Here are some crisis schooling tips to try and get through and maintain a sense of normality during abnormal times…
Home-schooling vs Crisis-schooling
Literally overnight, parents have had to become like teachers, along with everything else they are attempting to squeeze into already overfilled schedules.
What’s happening here during Covid19, is not home-schooling, it’s crisis-schooling. Crisis schooling is unlike anything we have had to do before. Suddenly kids are at home all the time. Crisis schooling has opened a range of dilemmas which parents are now facing.
Parenting vs Teaching
Let’s start with what we can control. Parents, you know how to love and care for your children and you understand them better than anyone else. Don’t be overly concerned with how much they are learning. The world is a stressful place right now and anxiety is contagious.
Throw out the rule book on schooling. Do what feels right for your family. Try not to compare what you are doing to others posting about their experience on social media.
Human beings are incredibly resilient, children especially so. We’ll all adapt and one day soon, normal life will resume – with a much greater appreciation for the things we took for granted before. Sometimes the path of least resistance is the right path so remember to be reasonable and kind to yourself. The goal should be to stay sane and stay safe.
There is a special COVID19 resource Google Drive that we are constantly keeping updated for parents to make use of.
Keep Routines in Place
Setting and sticking to a regular schedule is key. Consistency and structure are calming during times of stress. Plan to work alongside your child where possible.
You’ll do some of your stuff while they are doing theirs. Plus you’ll be there to help them stay on task or answer any possible questions. Block out realistic work periods that can last anything between 5 to 20 minutes for primary school kids and for upper primary and high school students, it varies between 15 and 45 minutes.
Include other activities and exercise
Incorporate new activities into your routine, like doing a puzzle or having family game time in the evening. Build in activities that help everyone get some exercise. Game-ify mundane things. Prioritize social time but at the same time, stay home and avoid playdates.
Nurture their interests and cultivate those non-school activities that no one ever seems to have enough time to pursue. Know that down time is healthy: Everybody needs and wants time to do whatever they want. Save some screen time allocations for this and let folks chill.
Schedule in time for your own work
Budget quiet time into the schedule so that if you are working from home, you can decide when you want privacy and allow your kids to have some of their screen time then. This keeps them occupied when you need to work.
Take shifts, if possible, so that if you have a partner or a family member who lives with you, try to tag team your work and child coverage. Plan on relieving each other and make arrangements to check in with each other when your kids are asleep. Whatever routines you create during this unusual time will need tweaking as you go.
Manage your own anxiety
It’s completely understandable to be anxious right now (how could we not be?) but how we manage that anxiety
has a big impact on our kids.It is also a good idea to limit consumption of news and social media that has the potential to feed your anxiety, and that of your kids. Turn the TV off and mute or unfollow friends or co-workers who are prone to sharing panic-inducing posts and try to avoid talking about your concerns within earshot of children.
Stay in touch virtually
Keep your support network strong, even when you’re only able to call or text friends and family. Socializing plays an important role in regulating your mood and helping you stay grounded. And the same is true for your children.
Connect with friends and family via Hangouts or Skype
Communication can help kids feel less alone and mitigate some of the stress that comes from being away from friends.
Make plans and keep it positive
In the face of events that are scary and largely out of our control, it’s important to be proactive about what you can control. Making plans helps you visualize the near future. Plan to just postpone celebrations like birthdays and graduations instead of cancelling or arrange to hold them online. Seeing you problem-solve in response to this crisis can be instructive and reassuring for kids.
If kids are excited about being at home with you, let them know that you’re glad they’re excited, but make sure they understand that though it may feel like they are on holiday, things will be different this time.
Make time to check in
The most important person in this whole situation, is yourself. If you aren’t ok, how are you going to look after the other people in your life? There is no right or wrong here, just what’s right for you. Keep a check on your own mental and physical well-being and don’t hesitate to ask for support.
Plan to check in with younger children periodically and give them the chance to process any worries they may be having. Children who are tantruming more than usual, being defiant or acting out may actually be feeling anxious. Pick a calm, undistracted time and gently ask how they’re feeling and make sure to respond to outbursts in a calm, consistent, comforting way.
Older children may express themselves differently or may internalize a lot of what they are feeling. As long as they know what you are there and available for a chat, they will feel more secure.
My granny always used to say when I was having a crisis or a tough time at school, “This too shall pass” and she was right. It always did. We know that life after Covid19 will never be the same again and we therefore need to take all the good that has happened and the lessons that we have learnt and strive to live simpler, better and cleaner lives. Isn’t it about time we did?
Article written and supplied by Philippa Fabbri is the Director of Communication, Funding and School Design
Stock images by Freepik