Parental Tips: How To Cope With Schooling In The " New Normal"

When the Covid19 global outbreak was declared a pandemic in March 2020, everyone thought that this will last about 3 months at most. Well, that was 12 months ago with no end in sight. Today, life has changed for everyone, and many of the things we take for granted are no longer easy to do. Take schooling, for instance. My preteen daughter was so looking forward to Junior High at a new and bigger school. Then Covid19 happened and government suspended opening of classes all over the country. A "new normal" was implemented, and when school finally opened in August last year (October for public schools), there was a shift from face to face classes to online learning which may continue even until the next school year. To say that she was not prepared for this is an understatement, and neither was I.

The saying " be careful what you wish for" is so true for me in this case, because the fact is, I used to mull over the idea of homeschooling for my daughter, but my late mother who was an educator rejected the idea for relatively valid reasons. But life is full of surprises.  Since the pandemic happened and face to face schooling was suspended, the option was either to home-school or enroll her in a regular school which offers an alternative learning system. I did the latter, since I am not open to her taking time off primarily because I would like my child to enter college by the time she turns 18.  Besides that, I know I am going to be a terrible home schooling mom. 

Having decided that, the school we chose (where she was accepted as an incoming freshman) implemented a purely online learning approach with both synchronous and asynchronous sessions from Tuesday to Friday. I have a full time job on top of my many other responsibilities, and there is just nobody at home who has the capacity to assist my daughter if she needs help with schoolwork. Thus, for the first quarter of this school year, I decided to stay home in the mornings (on call at work), just so she has someone around to call in case she comes across glitches or needs help with the laptop. The second quarter has began, and yes, she is getting technically better and I no longer hover over her, but still there are issues beyond my control like connectivity, slow computers, application glitches, etc...all of which makes a person lose their cool. I have even resorted to hitting the poor laptop which of course, did not help. 

 So what can a stressed parent like me do?

photo source: http://newyorkschooltalk.org

1.  Make a schedule and stick to it. The first thing we did was follow a schedule on top of that of the school. Online class work can take the whole day and more.  The  4 days school schedule has the synchronous morning classes from 8 to 11:45, then the asynchronous classes from 1:30-3:30 in the afternoon for their class work and assignments. This can be overwhelming especially when there are several assigned tasks given the same time limit. We try to manage these by doing the bigger and harder assignments first. We also try to do the tasks or review for tests scheduled for the next day, before dinner time. In this way, my child can have her much wanted relaxation before bedtime. Weekends are "me time" although she has a math tutorial for one and a half hour either on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon, because like I said, Mommie is no help at all beyond basic arithmetic.
 
2.  Develop a "growth" mindset for both you and your child. Nothing is impossible as long as we are willing to learn and work hard. I tell my child that making mistakes are part of life and we learn from them.  When we fail, we take these experiences as temporary setbacks from which we can improve and become better.

3. Motivate and encourage other hobbies/interests. Having been cooped up inside the house for almost a year can create an atmosphere of boredom and loss of creativity.  And so, it is best to open opportunities for interesting things to do or learn at home.  There are also various classes and tutorials avail0able online like cooking, dancing and many others.

4. Allow open and unconditional communication. Let your children feel that they can speak up. Listen to their concerns without passing judgment. Reassure them that you are there to support and help them.

5. Practice Empathy. Can you imagine if this happened to us? Yes, it would have been very hard, because then there was not much technology to entertain us. However, also because of technology, our children's mental health can be adversely affected. So be kinder, be more understanding, not just to our kids but also to others around us.
 
Indeed, these are strange times, but as parents we only want to do the best for our kids. As the pandemic is still very much around, let us continue to pray and hope for an end to all this. Let us continue to be vigilant and practice health safety. Meanwhile, let us face the many challenges of educating our kids with positivity and aplomb. God be with us.

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