One of the biggest challenges for parents in this pandemic has been to keep their kids engaged and feeling upbeat. We are all in an unfamiliar situation and have no clue of how to deal with it.
Screen time is up. Zoom schools are the new normal. Children are getting COVID-19 in a big way in the current wave of the virus. While we think that children are resilient and somewhat oblivious to the gravity of the coronavirus pandemic, we may be wrong.
Which is why the focus of parents shouldn’t be on keeping their children engaged and motivate them to keep learning, but to keep them happy and focus on their mental well-being, amidst rising anxiety and isolation.
A Delhi based school principal’s open letter to parents with school-aged children is going viral on social media because these are the very issues she has raised. This is what she wrote:
Dear parents with school aged children,
You might be inclined to create a minute by minute schedule for your kids. You have high hopes of hours of learning, including online activities, science experiments, and book reports. You’ll limit technology until everything is done! But here’s the thing…
Over the coming weeks, you will see an increase in behaviour issues with your kids. Whether it’s anxiety, or anger, or protest that they can’t do things normally – it will happen.
Our kids are just as scared as we are right now. Our kids not only can hear everything that is going on around them, but they feel our constant tension and anxiety. They have never experienced anything like this before. Although the idea of being off of school for weeks sounds awesome, they are probably picturing a fun time like summer break, not the reality of being trapped at home and not seeing their friends.
Over the coming weeks, you will see an increase in behaviour issues with your kids. Whether it’s anxiety, or anger, or protest that they can’t do things normally – it will happen. You’ll see more meltdowns, tantrums, and oppositional behaviour in the coming weeks. This is normal and expected under these circumstances.
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What kids need right now is to feel comforted and loved. To feel like it’s all going to be ok. And that might mean that you tear up your perfect schedule and love on your kids a bit more. Bake cookies and paint pictures. Play board games and watch movies. Do a science experiment together or find virtual field trips of the zoo. Start a book and read together as a family. Snuggle under warm blankets and do nothing.
Don’t scream at your kids for not following the schedule. Don’t mandate two hours of learning time if they are resisting it.
Don’t worry about them regressing in school. Every single kid is in this boat and they all will be ok. When we are back in the classroom, we will all course correct and meet them where they are. Teachers are experts at this! Don’t pick fights with your kids because they don’t want to do math. Don’t scream at your kids for not following the schedule. Don’t mandate two hours of learning time if they are resisting it.
If I can leave you with one thing, it’s this: at the end of all of this, your kids’ mental health will be more important than their academic skills. And how they felt during this time will stay with them long after the memory of what they did during those weeks is long gone. So keep that in mind, every single day.
The views expressed are the writer’s own. This letter was written before the current wave of COVID. While factual information on the pandemic has been updated, the letter has been kept intact.