Advice on Schooling in the New Normal

Schooling in the New Normal was the topic we discussed in our July webinar. Amidst the COVID pandemic, parents are facing some tough decisions around if, how, and when to send their little one’s back to school. If you’re feeling anxious, you’re not alone. We sat down with Child Therapist Debra Myburgh, and Educational Psychologist, Chantelle du Toit to understand the in’s and out’s of the matter, from a professional standpoint.

Trust yourself

The most important thing to remember is that there is no right or wrong answer. Trust yourself enough to know that you will make the best decision for your child, given your circumstances. Our children will never know another ‘normal’, so let’s make this one the absolute best it can be. In the rest of this post, you’ll find a paraphrased summary of our discussion, with some positive thoughts for keeping your kids productive at home or safely sending them back to school.

Normalise the new normal

Things are different than they were. We wear masks now, and regularly sanitise our hands. We don’t hug and kiss like we used to. These are essential parts of daily living, at least for the foreseeable future. We need to make every effort to not make them taboo, or burdensome. Embrace them as normal, and your kids will too.

Sending your kids back to school

Advice and thoughts from Debra Myburgh, Child Therapist

 

Watch what you say

Children are different from adults. They absorb information differently, and in fact, they are often far more attentive to subtleties that grown-ups don’t notice. Little ears hear it all. They pick up our anxiety, stress, frustration and confusion. As always, it’s crucial to watch what you say while in earshot.

 

Getting back into a routine

Sending your children back to school will be a big change of pace for them. All the time at home has likely blurred the lines between work, school, and play. It’s important to recreate good routines and make every effort to follow them. Getting back into the flow of things won’t always be easy, so do your best to keep things simple. Balance is as important as ever.

 

Understand their feelings

Just because you feel a particular way, doesn’t mean your little one does. While you may be anxious, perhaps they are excited to return to school? Or, you may feel relieved that schools have reopened, and they are not ready to swap home time for school time. Before you tell them what to do, try to understand how they may be feeling. Easier said than done, but well worth the effort.

 

Acknowledge their fears

Acknowledge your little one’s fears. As mentioned earlier, children analyse things different from grown-ups, so something you’ve barely noticed could be a really big deal to them. In all likelihood, their fears are justified. Be honest with them, and use compassion and positive reinforcement to help make their fears less scary.

Keeping Your Kids at Home

Advice and thoughts from Chantelle du Toit, Educational Psychologist

Structure the day

One of the most vital things that the school provides is structure and routine. We need to recreate this structure at home, with time set aside for learning, play, bonding and relaxing. Wake up at a regular time, get dressed, talk about the day’s plan and put it into action. Here is what Chantelle’s day looks like:

  • Free play inside
  • Morning routine (Breakfast, Brush teeth, Make the bed etc)
  • Fine Motor Activity
  • Theme Lesson, activities and art
  • Rhymes and songs
  • Gym ball activities
  • Snack
  • Gross motor activities
  • Free play outside
  • Lunch
  • Storytime
  • Nap Time

 

What NOT to do

No surprise here, but avoid long stretches of TV or movies. This is unproductive. Perhaps more surprisingly, you should avoid worksheets, teaching the alphabet, writing activities, or anything else in this space. What they need to learn in grade 1, they will.

Some ideas of things to do

A great activity is skipping: this teaches all sorts of valuable motor skills. Teach them their address, their birthday, mom and dad’s phone numbers, teach them to ride a bike, sing songs and recite rhymes, help them to recognise and write their own name. Be creative, make it fun, engage all their senses, and keep them moving.

Make time for quality bonding

It’s important to have allocated time where undivided attention is given to little ones. Mixing your work with their schooling is tough. Often what is sacrificed is the uninterrupted time between parent and baby. Choose quality over quantity.

Don’t worry about them falling behind

There is no set curriculum for children below grade 1. They need to play. They need to move. This is something they can do at home. As long as you are not putting them in front of the TV all day, there is nothing to worry about.

Thank you for reading this, we hope it’s been valuable. Please share your thoughts and input with us; we’d love to know what works for you. If you have any questions let us know, and we’ll make every effort to resolve them.

Lots of love, Nana and the nunukis