Parenting in the age of COVID-19 pandemic comes with uncertainties and fear, adding up to the many challenges of child rearing. With lifestyle changes embracing the new normal, children inevitably get affected. School closures are imposed, online classes are enforced. Although learning continues through virtual classrooms, the new normal comes with new parenting challenges. To help parents cope with such adjustments, we give them tips on how to prepare their kids for e-learning and keep their progress on track.
- Set a routine.
Because home is basically your child’s formal “classroom” now, make sure there’s an established routine that balances school and home. Routines create a sense of order during these uncertain times. The day’s “structure” begins with waking hours, dressing up, mealtime, study time, mini breaks including snacks and exercises, helping through age-appropriate chores, online time with friends for socials, family bonding, prayer time and finally bedtime. Note too that while routines are predictable, they should also be flexible. To create a family-friendly routine, it’s best to consult everyone (yes, even the little ones) on your day to day must-dos.
- Encourage conversations.
The key to manage fear and feelings of uncertainty is open communication. This pandemic has caused everyone to have a completely different life. Children definitely have a lot of questions and reactions to the current situation which may affect their learning process. Acknowledge how they feel and address their concerns as honestly as you can. For younger kids, start by explaining why they need to do online classes and how they can still “see” their friends, despite the situation. For older kids, explain the importance of time management on the use of gadgets, warn them about fake news, and remind them to be mindful of trusted sources of information.
- Discuss online security.
Because everything is digital, loads of information and details are also sent via the internet. While digital platforms provide key learning modules for your child, it’s important to note that it is never risk-free when it comes to your child’s data and privacy protection. Explain thoroughly to your children how the internet works, what they need to be wary about (e.g., cyberbullying, online predators), proper online behavior, things that are not for sharing (e.g., pictures, passwords, addresses, contact numbers), and the only legitimate sources of information/entertainment, and medium of interaction allowed. To lessen the risk, consider parental controls that can be set up on devices, especially for younger kids. Keep internet support helplines handy.
- Set boundaries.
If you’re working from home, assign a specific work area near your child’s study space. If you do not have an ample space for a working area and you have a young school kid to monitor, set up your child’s study nook alongside your work corner. That way, you can do your work and check on him/her without having to leave your area. Remember though, to also set rules with your child. Make it clear to him/her that you have to work, and he/she has to study, so your child is less likely to interrupt you every now and then. Set a specific time to check on your child and for your child to also come to you, if needed.
- Be clear about screen time rules.
As gadgets will most likely be your child’s buddy for most hours of the day, be clear about screen time rules. First rule is the amount of time spent for gadgets, off “school hours.” Socializing with friends and some entertainment are allowed, but only on certain hours of the day. Second rule pertains to the content being consumed on the internet. As kids with young minds are very vulnerable to digital media content, make it clear that there are only allowed websites, channels and apps that they can access. Ideally, young children must use their gadgets near the parents so they can be monitored.
Times have changed, drastically. But for parents, the truth remains: children’s education should never be compromised. There are ways to cope and there are ways to make the new normal work for everyone. All it takes is open communication and full cooperation from every family member.