Social distancing may be the call of the day. People are surely being advised and in some cases forced to keep a distance in order to avoid further spread of coronavirus pandemic.
The case, however, is different with parents as they are made to keep close contact with their children as schools are closed and a majority of people are asked to work from home across the world. The responsibility of parents has increased manifold when it comes to healthcare and education of kids.
No doubt, it is difficult for people to play both parenting and teaching at the same time as families are keeping themselves locked down in their houses. But the task can be made easier with the guidelines recommended by experts and experienced educators.
British national Philip Bradley is the head of Swiss International School Qatar. He carries the experience of 34 years in international education. The seasoned educator has many pieces of advice to offer parents on how to manage the studies of their children while staying away from school.
“Supporting and helping your child to reach their full potential is a role that parents willingly embrace. Singing to a newborn, playing hide and seek, reading bedtime stories, proofreading essays, cheering at events and holding teenagers accountable are all part of the deal! That said, most parents are glad that they are in partnership with school and their child’s teachers. So how do we best support learning now that schools are closed; children are confined to the home and the routines of attending school have gone? These are the questions, the parents are facing,” said Bradley.
The educator urges parents to maintain daily routines and learning protocols as much as possible. “Many schools will expect to see students in the virtual e-classroom at a specific time and take attendance with live video calls. If this is not a school requirement and your child is working ‘off-line,’ it is very important parents establish firm routines: get children up, dressed and ready to learn at the same time every day. There is no travel to school time so everyone should be less rushed, eat breakfast as a family – feed your brain with healthy foods. Ideally children would ‘go to class’ in another room that is away from the bedroom, has lots of natural light and no television or other distractions. If parents are home there is nothing more powerful than sitting and working together at the same table.”
Bradley lays stress on the point of not avoiding activities other than learning when planning for a day. “A school day is ‘chunked’ and very social, so it remains important to divide your day at home. Set times for learning, exercise at least once a day, make time to eat and drink, set time away from technology but also have time to socialise with classmates which will mean access to technology.
“No one said this was going to be easy! At least once a week have a family conference, take it in turns to say what went well this week, what was fun, what was hard and what is stressful. Take notes! Then decide on a few actions that will make next week easier/better – write these actions down and post them on the wall. They can be a list of dos and don’ts; they can be individual and for the whole family.”
The experienced school teacher is not oblivious to the fact that children must be asking question about the unusual conditions and unprecedented measures. “As a parent you need to acknowledge your child’s feelings, stresses and anxieties. Children always look to parents for answers and especially at a time when there are many unknowns. Do not dismiss them, discuss their concerns and the advice given by governments and health authorities and why they are helpful but also why they are hard. As adults, avoid sharing your own concerns with children.
“A family doesn’t need to be perfect; it just needs to be united – clichéd indeed, but a great reminder at this difficult time. Another reminder/suggestion is to play traditional board, card or dice games. These are great family activities and have many learning benefits; both social and academic. Children can even play them online with friends or family in remote locations.”
Bradley further laid emphasis on the need for unity at all levels to ward off the outbreak. “Of course schools are imperfect too but we ignore the wisdom of being united at our peril. We need to unite at this time by being supportive, listening, patient, kind and caring – as individuals, families, school and country. If we get that right I am also confident our students will continue to make good learning progress and be ready when schools reopen.
“A book we at SISQ have found to be very helpful in parenting and creating a more harmonious family life is: How To Talk To Kids So Kids Will Listen and Listen So Kids Will Talk by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish.”
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