Helping Children to Return to School
Starting July 15, 2020, schools will be re-opened and students will be returning to school in batches. The schools are making all the preparations to ensure that students can continue their schooling smoothly, in compliance with all the standard operating procedures (SOPs) provided.
At the same time, parents are also busy preparing for their children to return to school. After four months of school closure, many children have outgrown their uniforms.
While busy making sure that their children are well equipped to return to school, parents should also check on whether their children are ready mentally, emotionally and socially. The following are a few things that parents should pay attention to:
First and foremost, parents need to find out how the children feel about returning to school after a long ‘holiday’. Working parents have experienced this earlier. After more than two months of working from home, a majority of us had mixed feelings about returning to the office. While there are people who were super excited about going back to work, some were a bit reluctant because they have had adjusted well with working from home, while others were worried to leave the house thinking they might catch the virus. If parents had mixed feelings about returning to work, children, too, have similar feelings about going back to school.
Many children are excited about returning to school because they can meet physically their friends and teachers whom they have missed. Like some adults, there are children who are worried that they might catch the virus at school.
Parents need to understand their children’s feelings about returning to school and advise them accordingly. Children who are super excited about going back to school need to be reminded about maintaining social distancing with friends. Children who are reluctant to go to school need to be persuaded to do so. Similarly, worried children need to be made aware of the fact that in our country, the COVID-19 pandemic is presently under control and the risk of being infected is quite low, especially if we comply with the prescribed SOPs.
Secondly, parents need to ensure that their children practise the new norm such as washing their hands regularly and wearing the face mask when they are outside the house. Throughout the movement control order (MCO, parents were always at home to remind the children of the new norm. Presently, in school, the children are on their own and they have to practise the new norm all the time. Parents can make children understand the importance of practising the new norm in order to protect themselves and the people around them from getting the virus.
Thirdly, parents need to help their children to catch up with their learning. During the MCO, teachers resumed classes online. Unfortunately, different student experience online learning differently, hence the effectiveness is also not the same. There are students who have good infrastructures and managed to follow the classes well. Others may have the infrastructures needed but the home environment was not conducive for learning. There are also students who did not have the infrastructures to attend the classes. In fact, some students might have found it difficult to follow the class just because online learning was not compatible with them.
With the different experiences of online learning, children are returning to school with different levels of understanding of the syllabus they have learned during the online classes. There will be students who are left out and in need of help to catch up with their learning.
Hence, in order to cope with situations as presented, it would be better if parents can update the teachers with their children’s online learning experiences and achievements so that the teachers are aware of the students’ academic development. With such an information, it is hoped that in schools, teachers can do what is needed to help those student who are left out, while at home, parents can do their part in helping the children to catch up.
Soon, our children will be returning to school after a long ‘holiday’. Just as we adults needed some time to get used to returning to work and practising the new normal after the MCO, so do our children. As parents, we need to prepare them for this and help them to adapt. Get to know their feelings, encourage them to practise the new normal and help them to catch up with the syllabus. May our help ease their process of returning to school.