With the school holidays drawing to a close and the start of a new term just around the corner, we would typically see our students and families returning refreshed and excited to start the second half of the school year. These school holidays however have been difficult for most families. The limitations placed on where we can go and who we can interact with have meant that many families have been confined to their homes and have been unable to visit friends or loved ones.
Furthermore, the recent announcement from the NSW government indicating that the first two weeks of our school term will be ‘learning from home’ means that many parents will be juggling their own work commitments whilst supporting their children to engage in their learning.
Even though many of us have done this before, the reality is that lockdowns and learning from home don’t get easier the more we have them. Here are some tips for how to support yourself and your children through this difficult time:
Make sure your children have everything they need in the morning before they begin their work. This might include stationery, charged devices, logins and passwords, as well as pre-prepared recess and lunch that can be easily accessed by children at break times.
Try and start the school day at a similar time each morning. Schedule in recess and lunch breaks, and include regular brain breaks for younger children.
This can be especially helpful for older students who are able to work more independently. Have an idea about what is achievable each day and work diligently towards it. This helps to build internal motivation, time management skills, and a sense of accomplishment in students.
Having goals can keep a student on track but there will be times when they feel overwhelmed or can’t concentrate well, and that’s OK! Have breaks and adjust expectations.
This is a stressful time for many families who may be balancing existing work commitments while children are learning from home. Others might be dealing with sudden unemployment or reduced hours, or caring for sick or elderly relatives. If you sense that you or your children are becoming irritable, take a break and refocus. Just do what you can.
Are you and your family sleeping and eating well? Children function best with about 8-10 hours of sleep per night. Don’t forget to encourage kids to play and be active during the day. This is important for both their mental and physical health. Utilise a relaxation strategy such as deep breathing to help manage feelings of frustration or stress. There are many free apps available to download (Headspace, Calm, Smiling Mind) that your family can use either individually or together.
Speak to someone else about how you are tracking. Don’t be afraid to reach out to family, friends, your church, or an organisation such as Lifeline or Kids Helpline. These services offer confidential telephone or online counselling.
Finally, remember that we have a God who speaks and listens. A heavenly father who made us, knows us and loves us. We can bring our concerns before God and be confident that he hears us and will support us in our need. Paul tells us in Philippians 4:6-7 - "Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."
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