As we all know our children are due to return to school very soon. There are a couple of things we need to do to help ourselves and then our children settle back into the routine of going back to school.
This of course will not be the usual back to school talk, life has changed and so have our children, apart from everything else we would have been considering there is also the additional issue of the emotional well being of our children that may have taken a knock or two because of the effects of the pandemic.
A couple of days ago I did a session on this same topic, but for educators, if you missed it please read up here, today I speak to you as parents, myself included.
This is a new normal, life is different, our children as well as ourselves have gone through something we never would have imagined. As with everything parenting, please we need to deal with ourselves first if we are going to help our children prepare emotionally with returning back to school.
First things first:
‘Mummy, Daddy, calm down!’
I hate to bring you back to this, but it is a necessity. There is a lot to worry about. Don’t fret.
- Sorting out finances: The almighty school fees, is looming and we really do not know where all the money will come from.
Review your situation, contact the school now and talk frankly about where you are at. See if a plan can be arranged.
Set the plan in place and please stick to it.
Now that is sorted you can relax….
2. Control your emotions: we are supposed to be talking about preparing our children emotionally for school post covid-19, but how can we do this if we cannot even deal with our emotions? So again I say to you ‘Calm down’ take a deep breath, pause when things are getting too heated up. Once you are calm your children will pick up on this and do the same. This is not the time to continue screaming and yelling at the children. Please I will still say my own, African or not stop beating these children. Mental health is crucial, living in fear of the cane is I beg to repeat ‘Lazy parenting’. Children need parents who will get in there and clean those dirty nappies. Are you ready?
3. Understand your child: I am sorry if you think you have heard it before, but I am afraid you still need to hear it again. Know your child, understand how they grow and learn. Pay particular attention to what is age appropriate and what is not. We push our children beyond the realm of appropriate tasks. We over stimulate their brains with academic endeavors yet these children have little or no understanding of how to make decisions and solve simple problems around them. This must stop. If you pay attention to what I am saying you will not be worrying too much that your child is not writting or reading at 3 years! Neither will counting up to 500 at 3 be an issue! You will not be planing to take your 8 year old to secondary school, neither would you be pushing your 14 year old to do a JAMB or other such examinations. Where are we rushing to? As our Pa. Wole Soyinka would ask: ‘Are we (rushians)?’ All this rush has affected the education sector negatively and it is our fault (parents). Children cheat because of this, the Primary school system in the private sector has completely erased Primary 6 and in some cases Primary 5 is fast disappearing as well!
Now that we have dealt with ourselves as parents we can look at the different tools and strategies to get our children prepared emotionally for their return to school.
- Get the children back to a good sleeping pattern now. In most cases they would have been sleeping a bit or much later than usual and waking up late as well. It is best to get back to normal now before the rude shock of the first day back in school hits them.
- If schools are going to be running half days, 2 days on and 2 days off, online and onsite, there is something we as parents need to understand. It is simply that we must get more positively involved in our children’s education. Set out the time. Learn how to do this. Parenting is not automatic… Educating your child as a parent needs some intentional strategies.
- Talk to your child, we cannot keep things in and only talk about academic issues, find out how they are feeling and help them figure out how to resolve worries and move past them.
- Help your child understand himself by discussing how he learns, how he deals with things, why he may get stressed, what things make him happy. All this will also help you understand your child.
- You can now work out coping strategies of how to handle himself, what is the best way to cope with stress for your child. Share your experiences. You may need to share how you felt returning back to work if this applies. Children may be feeling anxious about their friends. Unfortunately some of them are gone forever and some will not be returning to the same school. This is real folks, so please dig in and help the children overcome.
- Look for positive events, activities or situations that will lighten the minds of your children. It may just be playing outside, planting maize and seeing it grow. Doing a big project…. anything that will excite and engage their minds.
- Make time for the children, be available, give them access to talk to you. They may be ready to bare their hearts when you are busy doing something else. Make the time. For example, I had to take a break to attend to my son who has a painful boil and needed my attention. Thank God I got up from the middle of writing this without complaining, I made him breakfast and provided his medication with water and then came back to continue writing. I know it is not easy… I am learning too. I am sure he wont think ‘Mummy doesn’t care or never has time for me… Please be on the alert, let them talk to you when they are ready. Bond with your child. This is the way to ensure that our children return to school ready for the rigors ahead of them.
It is not going to be an easy ride, please don’t pressurize the child give them the opportunity to return to school and find their feet. It would really be great if we could find ways to encourage the children to learn without pressure. They do love learning, they are wired to learn, yet we complain that they don’t want to!
I wonder why?
So parent’s let’s get to it. Let’s sort ourselves out and then help our children prepare for resumption like it is the best times of their lives…being real yet being positive.
Let’s go do this.