The views expressed in this article are the author’s and are not necessarily the views of the partners.
Working from home is an adjustment for many. But adding children to the mix brings its own complexities. It is quite challenging for the parents to keep their children entertained and engaged while they juggle team video conference calls and draft presentations. Life for children has changed like never before. Schools are closed and meetings with peers and friends outdoor are prohibited. They are being forced to adjust to the changing dynamics of social and interpersonal relationships.
Children across the country might be feeling more unsettled than enthusiastic. Parents are also under pressure, as the work emails, household chores and lesson plans mount up, taking the art of multi-tasking to a whole new level.
The Covid-19 pandemic has forced everyone to cope with major changes in everyday life. The associated physical distancing and home confinement are difficult for all of us to manage. As of April 8, 2020, schools have been suspended nationwide in 188 countries, according to UNESCO. Over 90% of enrolled learners (1·5 billion young people) worldwide are now out of education. Parents should make the most of this period if the goal is to raise well-balanced, well-adjusted children with a broad base of knowledge, we need to move away from the idea that education is only what is taught in schools.
Anxiety travels faster than a virus hence, it is also very important for parents and caregivers to take care of their own mental health and wellbeing. Firstly, adults need to be aware of their own stress responses and find ways to keep calm, whether through music, breathing exercises or other relaxation techniques. This will put you in a stronger place to recognize stress in children and find ways to support them.
Children take their cues from parents and seeing them respond to a situation calmly. Explain clearly to children why we are all forced to be indoors and the importance of adhering to this restriction.
Some children, particularly those who are older, may be able to self-manage their stress, this is harder for younger ones. Signs of stress and anxiety are different for every child. It may manifest itself physically with headaches, loss of appetite, or wetting the bed. Some children may talk about their worries, while others might withdraw into themselves or appear more wilful.
All of this is completely normal. Parents need to try to help them understand and label their emotions, so they can start to recognize and feel more comfortable with such feelings. Children turn to their parents for information and reassurance, especially when facing uncertainty, which makes having regular conversations vital. Be truthful but also mindful of your child’s age. Providing factual information but adjusting the amount of detail to suit their age will help strike the right balance.
Children need to understand this is not a vacation and that they must have fixed mealtimes and bedtimes. Many schools have started online study sessions already, which would take up a large part of their day. It would be useful to have a time-table of different activities they can do on their own. Technology presents risks but also lots of opportunities to help children thrive through this challenging period.
Thousands of Indian education-tech companies to offer live classes to students. Their mobile apps give tutorials for quizzes, computer courses, vocabulary learning, crosswords, general knowledge and extracurricular activities. Some kids have a passion for painting or drawing or storytelling. Develop tasks that tap that passion. For younger kids, you could give them building blocks or a stepping stool that they can exercise on.
Psychological wellbeing is paramount and that might mean shifting the focus away from formal learning to expressing feelings and creative activities, like arts and crafts. Reducing your child’s exposure to peril, for instance, TV programs or stories featuring destruction and death is another key consideration. If you’re trying to replicate a full school timetable, go a little easier on yourself and your children. Use this time to connect with your children and bond with them as a family.