BACK TO SCHOOL – A CHILD CARE GUIDE FOR PARENTS AMID COVID TIMES
Written by: Malak Tariq
Two years ago, students had their world turned upside down. COVID 19 caused schools to close their doors, along with the whole world coming to a standstill.
COVID 19 has ever since disrupted education systems globally, affecting the most vulnerable learners the hardest. As schools were shut, lack of connectivity and devices excluded at least one-third of students from pursuing learning remotely.
Today, despite the Omicron variant, schools are open in the majority of countries, supported by health and safety protocols and vaccination programmes. In India, as COVID cases see a slump, schools are reopening in different states. Children are excited about meeting old friends and making new friends and learning in classes and parents support the move, but there are many parents and children who are coping with the anxiety that comes with going back to classes.
Parents need to make sure they focus on what they do know to be true and factual at any given time.
Parents need to focus on managing and regulating their own emotions while helping their kids do the same.
There are considerable reasons for back to school anxiety amid COVID:
Fear of getting sick
Leaving the comfort zone
Loss of a loved one due to COVID
Anxiety-related to being in social settings.
Here are some concrete measures that parents can focus on to manage and regulate their own emotions while ensuring that their children do the same:
The more comfortable the kids and parents are with “what their school life will look like and how we will navigate it,” the less anxious they will be.
2. The most important thing is to create a culture of “talk-about-ability” in our families. Parents want their kids to feel comfortable sharing their thoughts and fears, and parents should validate and acknowledge them when they do.
3. Pay attention to your kids’ sleeping, eating and activity levels. Observing these things will help support the mental health and wellness of kids and families as we transition into the new school year.
4. Arm yourself with information and build relationships. Educate yourself about what measures the school is taking to keep kids safe for in-person/on-ground learning.
5. Building positive relationships with teachers, principals and educators is one of the most effective ways to manage school-related stress, whether the learning is occurring in-person or virtually.
6. The best thing parents can do is follow the guidelines put out by the scientific community about social distancing and transmission reduction and teach kids practically about masking up, washing hands and maintaining distance at school when required. Help your child understand the pandemic.
7. Follow a routine for homework, eating and sleeping so that kids regain the discipline which was disturbed during the lockdown.
8. Incorporate exercises and reading in your child’s schedule to manage screen time that they got used to in lockdown. As schools begin teaching, engage your child on platforms online which help them learn in a fun way at home as well.
Kaksha Learning is one such holistic learning platform that incorporates reading good books and learning new skills in a creative manner. There are books to read which stimulate the imagination and critical thinking of kids and courses which teach financial literacy and emotional intelligence from a tender age. Such a platform would be a fruitful foundation for students during school days to gain skills that will help them in the real world.
UNICEF has come up with guidelines as well as experiences of children who stepped into schools amid Covid protocols. In this new normal, safety and studies shall go hand in hand every step of the way and it is the cooperation of parents and teachers with kids that shall ensure the continuation of in-person classes, especially for elementary school kids who require one-on-one attention.
Parenting has long been marked by difficult decisions — but for many, the decision forced by the coronavirus between virtual and in-person learning was the most impossible choice they've ever had to make as parents.
But with the right mix of open communication, precaution and acceptance of the new normal, as mentioned in tips above, parents and children can win over the “Back to School” challenge and cherish learning in person all over again!