So many parents are worried to some extent about their children falling behind at school due to the impact of the COVID-19 lockdowns over the past few months. With another nationwide closure of public schools until late August at least, we’re not surprised! An already packed school curriculum doesn’t really leave room for a week’s worth of flu, never mind months of interruption due to a global pandemic. And with most parents back at work either remotely or at the office, the risk of your child falling even further behind is very real.
The bad news? There’s not a lot you can do to speed up the course of the pandemic.
The good news? There is A LOT that you can do to support your child during this time!
How do I support my child if I’m not sure how to support myself?
We totally get it – the uncertainty and novelty of this situation has most of us reaching for our favourite self-care routine (which is a good thing, by the way!) Parenting isn’t easy under the best of circumstances, and it can be difficult to know how to support your child through such an unprecedented circumstance.
It’s important to remember that these are not normal times, and normal expectations that you have of yourself, your children and their education may be suspended. That said, kids dislike uncertainty even more than adults, and so any certainty that you can give them will help settle their anxiety. This can include making plans to go for a walk in nature on the weekend, setting up a schoolwork goal for the day, or getting your children involved in planning dinner for this evening.
Another way that you can support both yourself and your child is to incorporate mindfulness into your daily routine.
Is your happy-go-lucky child now anxious and withdrawn?
It might have been a real shock to you if your sunshine-child is now sulky, moody and prone to emotional outbursts. However, in this situation – we all are! The best way to support your child is to help them create new habits to help them adjust to online learning. You can also choose to reward bravery: if your child is too worried about COVID to be in a public place, encourage smaller acts of bravery, like taking a walk down the street with them, and build their confidence in this way. If these symptoms last for more than a few days, or are interrupting your child’s eating or sleeping patterns, it might be necessary to see an online child psychologist to ensure that nothing more serious is going on.
Feel bad that you don’t have the time to dedicate to my child’s schooling at home?
…or have the content knowledge, patience or space! But who does?
With all the stress that your whole family is under, falling behind at school is one more addition to a long list of things to worry about. It’s okay to not be able to spend 4-6 hours on your child’s education in between your own 9-5 job! However, if your child is too young or too easily distracted to benefit from online tutoring to help them keep on top of their schoolwork, it might be time to get some help. We’re talking about a dedicated, experienced tutor who can come in 3-5 times a week, tackle and keep on top of your child’s schoolwork, help them with homework and problem areas, as well as supervise them during study breaks.
Will things ever go back to normal?
Your child might want to know when they can stop wearing a mask, start playing with their friends, or having fun family outings that you used to have. It’s really important to be optimistic with your children, especially by modelling this behaviour yourself. While we don’t know when things will return to normal, or if they ever will, you can help your child adapt to a new normal by making it fun, exciting, and not at all scary.
What if my child is struggling to follow a curriculum at home?
This is very understandable: as much as kids like routine, they enjoy the structured environment of a classroom which gives them clear expectations. Especially in the first few months at home, they may miss this and struggle to adjust. A good way to build this in is to do a fun, structured course, such as a language Boot Camp, or our Little Sparkz program for very young learners. This will help reinforce the fact that learning is fun!
Learning support isn’t a “one size fits all”, just like your child’s needs may be different from their friends’ or sibling’s needs. You know your child the best – and with almost 14 years in the field, we know learning support the best! This is why we have the experience and knowledge to help you find the perfect solution for both your child, and yourself.
This article first appeared on www.brightsparkz.co.za.