Advice for children battling to adjust to the new ‘normal’ at school

News Desk

Living through the coronavirus pandemic has changed our lives in ways that we could not have imagined just a few months ago. We are bombarded with information and realities that have left many of us feeling uncertain, anxious, and fearful of the future.

Plus, the virus is so unprecedented that nobody seems to know what to do or how to do it. These are unchartered waters. Everyone has been affected in some way or another. This includes our children who have had to face lockdown restrictions, scary unknowns, and a brand-new way of having to attend school.

Some children have fared better than others, but for those who are battling to adjust, Cindy Glass, Owner and Co-Founder of Step Up Education Centres, offers the following advice:

  1. Focus on routine, structure, and a positive mind-set: Nothing says, “We have your back!” louder than a positive approach to challenging circumstances. Keep the lines of communication wide open. Your children will want to discuss their fears and have the opportunity to ask questions to alleviate anxieties and stresses that they may be feeling. They will want to lean on you, their parents and guardians to lead them forward in a way that instils confidence and a positive sense of togetherness in the family.
  2. Following the rules at school is important: The new normal in schools includes knowing how to wash your hands, sanitising school desks and equipment, not being allowed to share stationery and food, wearing masks and social distancing – even on the playground. These are tough measures for children, especially the younger ones, to adhere to. Speak to the temporary nature of these measures and explain that when everyone works as a team, the restrictions will end quicker.
  3. Focus on what you and your family can control: There are many things that are within your control. Teach your children how important it is to take care of themselves while around other people. Help them understand – through non-judgemental, open communication – that they need not fear these restrictions. Fear creates an entirely new set of challenges that don’t add any value to anyone’s life.
  4. Limit the amount of negative news in your home: Keep yourself informed about the virus, but be aware that children do not have the emotional maturity of adults and therefore cannot process frightening news effectively, if at all.
  5. Unburden the academic pressures: Though there may have been many fundamental academic goals to your child’s learning before the virus, this is not the time to add any pressure. Appreciate the enormity of having to adapt to the new ‘normal’ of life at school and know that there is very little on earth that can and will cause a child to burn out, become depressed, demotivated and disheartened as added pressure under tough circumstances most certainly will do!
  6. Believe in your children’s ability to adapt and thrive: Even in a pandemic! Let your children know that you are confident in them and that you are proud of the efforts that they are making – even in what may seem to be small ways.

“Your children need you to lead the way. They are going to follow your actions, not your words. That is why you as parents need to foster an attitude of gratitude in your children. The school day may be different, but each of us needs to find something to be grateful for every day! Gratitude helps us navigate the toughest of circumstances,” Cindy concludes.

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