It is a difficult time for many families at the moment – there is no doubt in that. As we navigate through this challenging time, we also face the fear of sending our children back to the classroom environment with special consideration that we are heading towards the peak of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Health and safety protocols have been put in place by the relevant governmental departments for the safety of our children, yet the reality is that many are still feeling uneasy at this time.
South African parents are bracing themselves for the phasing in of the majority of children to school on Monday, July 6. Here are a few mindful matters to consider leading up to this critical period:
TALK TO YOUR CHILD ABOUT THE PANDEMIC
As the younger children venture out to the new way of teaching and learning, be sure that you speak to them about the practices that need to be adhered to during this time. Remember, that it is the duty of the parent or care-givers to instill good discipline regarding hand-washing and social distancing.
Teach your child the correct way to wear a mask and talk to her about the value of sanitizing hands regularly. Depending on the age of the child, have a mature conversation around how the coronavirus spreads and what precautions to take in order to be safe.
Do not shy away from this topic as it is so important that your child hears all this information from you.
EDUCATE YOUR CHILD ABOUT PROPER PRACTICE
Through open discussions you will empower your child to embrace the classroom situation. Remember that your child has been in a safe and comfortable environment for three months now and suddenly there will be a change of routine.
This will entail earlier mornings that are colder and a brand new routine that will include screening of children (temperature checks and filling in a questionnaire at school).
Children have never experienced this before and you need to make them understand why it is so important to follow this procedure at school. School will certainly not be the same as your child remembers it. Therefore it is vital that you educate your child about why masks are necessary, why hand-washing is essential and why social distancing is paramount during this time.
A NEW ROUTINE
Should you be sending your child back to school – be sure to embrace the new routine. Children will come home with many different emotions on the first day back.
Wearing a mask for long periods of time will pose a challenge, social distancing from friends will also be new. Be ready to have discussions around the realities of the new school day and how the operational roll-out of the school environment looks and feels different. Children will look towards you for reassurance and you will need to be ready to offer this to your child.
BE COMFORTABLE WITH YOUR DECISION
The return to school is such a sensitive one and therefore clear thought needs to go into it. Education and friendships are essential to thrive and be happy, yet at the same time we cannot ignore that we are living through a pandemic.
Whatever suits your family best during this time is what you will have to be happy and comfortable with. Remember that there is no right or wrong decision right now as every family is managing the pandemic as best as they can. Do not compare your family to the next – as we never know the real emotions, anxieties or stress the other faces.
LOVE YOUR CHILD, JUST A LITTLE MORE
Although children are super resilient – they are also emotional beings that seek comfort from an adult they trust. The parent, grandparents, teachers and those close to them are their source of comfort. Therefore during this difficult time, consider that your child will need a little more love and care.
Remember that this experience is new to them – it will feel like their very first day of school (back in Grade R) and those emotions are real and valid. Do not dismiss their emotions – rather talk about their fears and allow them to express themselves. Offer support and love as that is what a child looks for in a parent.
Krsangi Radhe is the founder of Sankalpa Coaching. She is an NLP practitioner, time-line therapist, life coach and educator in the public sector. Krsangi Radhe helps women and children achieve a happy and fulfilled life through coaching. She is also the author of a book titled: ‘Mindful Parenting’. She can be reached on :[email protected]