Zoe McPherson, School Counsellor
Anna Wood, Middle Senior School Teacher
The recent Movement Control Order has continued to challenge and change our lives. What this means is that we have to continually learn and adapt to the changing environment around us. There are three articles in the series ‘Supporting Student Development Beyond the Classroom’. The first article focuses on locus of control and how we respond to change while the second article was on the roles that teachers and parents have to play in dealing with change and some tips for supporting students.This is the third and final article which looks at some practical tips that will be of benefit for the home and for ourselves as family units.
This is the third and final Article in the series ‘Supporting Student Development Beyond the Classroom’. The recent Movement Control Order has continued to challenge and change our lives. What this means is that we have to continually learn and adapt to the changing environment around us. This article looks at some practical tips that will be of benefit for the home and for ourselves as family units.
Adults that work from home often create an area for where they do their work. There shouldn't be any difference when it comes to our children’s online learning. This area should ideally (not always possible!) be a separate space to which they would normally play and relax. The idea behind this is that when it's time to relax and play children can physically remove themselves from their learning environment, which has overall benefits to their mental health. The flip side to this, is a designated space allows fewer distractions and will assist in concentration and focus.
As the use of technology continues to evolve and encompass most of our daily lives, parents and families have been urged to look at ways to regulate the exposure to their children. During this time where school has moved to online learning platforms, children are required to spend greater periods of time in front of screens. Parents need to look at ways in which their child can have breaks from screen time.
Once the child has finished using a device for their learning, a break from any screen should be enforced. This is to preserve their mental and physical health.
Most schools across the world have designated breaks within the normal school day. This routine is important as it provides a chance for students to step back and have a break both mentlly and physically. During online learning it is important that these breaks are also maintained. Recess and lunch should be naturally inbuilt to the home learning routine.
School is a time for children to laugh, play and interact with their peers and friends. We need to ensure that these things still happen within the home environment, even though it may look very different. The use of video calls with friends and families have been vital for adults to survive during this quarantine, kids are no different. It is important that play dates, social gatherings are still organised for children. This is a chance to become creative with the process, especially with younger children.
This could be an opportunity to take things back to the olden days! When kids used colouring books, drew on paper and read from physical books. These are examples of ways in which students can learn without a screen.
Most people believe that schedules are hard to maintain and that perhaps they are boring. Routine and schedules are your biggest ally when you have the entire family at home working or attending online classes. Keeping to a semi-normal routine will help manage stress and anxiety. It will eliminate unnecessary chaos, stress and anxieties. Make a schedule for each member of the household and put them in a visible location so everyone is aware of what is happening throughout the day. Where possible, align breaks and lunchtimes.
The MCO/CMCO/RMCO may feel like a time when we can lower the expectations that we would normally have within the household. But it is still important that children have clear consistent expectations within the home. Lack of consistency is what often drives misbehaviour in children, as they don't know where they stand or what is appropriate. If the bar changes daily they will not know “which way is up”.
If it is ok to leave dishes in the sink today, but tomorrow they get in trouble for not washing the dishes..then our inconsistency is setting our children up to fail.
Nobody has all the answers, we can assure you. Every family has different struggles and is constantly inventing new ways to manage. It is important that where we can't physically connect without family and friends, that we still connect virtually.
If you have a conversation (virtual) with another mum you too will realise that her child can’t keep up with that Math homework either. Or perhaps she has found getting her kids out of their pyjamas everyday has been a real challenge.
We are all human and we need to rely on each other for support, tips, strategies. We just need to find other ways to have these conversations, but it's vital that they continue to happen.
“Taco Tuesday” “ Pizza Friday” “Sunday Roast”
Rituals generally are seen as routines within the family, but the difference is that they hold some special significance. These types of special occasions help to create bonds within the family unit, they create special moments, they create belonging and thus can promote positive mindsets.
A ritual can be spiritual, religious in nature or it can just be something the family holds valuable. This is an opportunity to create new (or bring back your own childhood rituals) as a way of creating a sense of stability into the family home when the world doesn't seem so stable.
The world is such a serious place at the moment, one important factor that seems to always get left off the list is to just have some fun. More than any other time we need to engage with each other, laugh and just have some good old fashioned fun. This is a great time to break into song and dance, be creative and play some games.
Creating a balance between work and play is hard, but it is worthwhile to set aside time each week to have fun. We realise that life is short and we have to make the most of it. So before life gets back to “normal” when we are all too busy, this is a great time to spend quality time just doing fun/ silly stuff, as if we miss this chance we may not get the opportunity when we move forward into the fast paced world we all used to live in.