The coronavirus pandemic has caused widespread disruption to the daily lives of all. Children are feeling these changes deeply. The new form of online learning has impacted children in different ways. With schools reopening across Mumbai, children are likely to experience a range of emotions.
While some might be happy and excited, some might feel anxious or frightened. Here are six things parents can take care of as children return to school recommended by Vagish Jha, Academic Lead and Head of Teacher Training, Schoolnet & Swati Nirantare, Assistant Manager, Marketing & Communications, Schoolnet
1. Physical Health and Hygiene habits:
The famous saying to “Lead by Example” applies to imbibing hygiene habits amongst children too. Habits like washing hands regularly and apt use of sanitisers should be practised well at home to make it routine for the kids. Positive reinforcements of such habits with a pat on the back or offering praise in a group of adults and children will help imbibe the habits better.
The use of masks and maintaining social distance with their friends and teachers should also be conveyed serenely. They should be reassured that these steps are important for everyone’s safety and should not take them lightly. Parents should never miss highlighting the important role a child will be playing by keeping themselves and their friends and teachers healthy.
2. Emotional stability of Child:
Previously, the onset of the new academic year would bring some anxiousness amongst students. This year, after spending 15 to 18 months at home, their nervousness might be heightened. Signs such as lack of interest to meet friends, fatigue, anger, or lack of proper sleep and diet, indicate that your child needs extra support and more of your time to cope with the changing situation. Parents need to be more empathetic to their children. Normalising such feelings they are experiencing will help them come out of the same.
3. Friends and their behaviour:
Students at this age are bound to be influenced more by their peers. It is crucial that, as parents, you know how your child’s friends are reacting to the given situation. If their friends or classmates are excited and looking forward to meeting each other at school, half the job is done already. These happy and friendly discussions will lighten any negative sentiments and will make it easier for children to cope.
4. Academic/ Learning behaviour:
Many children have struggled to continue learning during the COVID-19 lockdown. As they return to school, they may be fearful about facing this, especially if there is any comparison to other children.
During this time, parents must prioritize their children’s wellbeing and adjustment to the new normal over their learning outcomes. When children feel loved and supported, they’re going to learn better. Parents could study together with such platforms to retain their children’s interest in studies and help them mend their studying experience.
5. Healthy conversations / Counselling:
There is no substitute for a healthy, direct, and factual conversation. Children need to know that they have full support from their parents and guardians and are trusted completely. The more you talk to your children about your experiences, the more comfortable they will be while telling you theirs. At this stage, parents must build this rapport with children to also save them from getting under negative influences.
Parents should also not hesitate to consult a counsellor. Counselling could be of any form, like career counselling to help a child understand her skills and interest and bring back focus to her academic performance.
6. School’s Involvement and Measures:
Schools are a major stakeholder in a child’s life. Parents should proactively indulge in conversations with school authorities and teachers to understand what measures the school will be taking to adhere to the school reopening norms. Schools should be informed about the child’s emotional and academic status to make it more comfortable for the kids to start their learning journey in physical schools.
Parents have also got used to having children around and might be facing some pressure and stress. While it is important to be observant about all the minute changes, till a new normal is established, parents should have patience. As parents, it is of utmost priority to take care of a child’s health first and be there to support whenever required.