So, here we go again! We’re returning to online learning and more than anything, we need to prepare ourselves and stay positive. We have done this before. We can do it again and what’s more, we can do it better. There are a number of things for students, parents and schools to keep in mind when going back.
Over the months since our return to learning on campus, we evaluated the online teaching we had delivered and planned for a return to this platform. We gathered feedback and held a ‘Lessons Learned’ exercise with staff and parents and the results informed and guided our planning for future online schooling and for the wider issue of risk management. This kind of schooling is an evolving phenomena across the world and any changes we make will be to keep students engaged and excited about their learning.
We have previously written blog posts on what to tell your children and helping your children cope with COVID-19. This time however, with the benefit of hindsight and some learning of our own, we have greater understanding of the difficulties that face parents, teachers, and students at Green Shoots International School. With this in mind, we would make the following suggestions:
Though over half a year has passed since the pandemic outbreak, we are still concerned about our family members living elsewhere. News on our screens from other countries shows diverse views on the statistics of Covid infection and fatalities; protests and often violent altercations associated with the Black Lives Matter movement; fights over mask-wearing and perceived human rights violations. While parents of younger children will, no doubt, monitor their children’s viewing, older students may be more aware of this than parents recognise. Keep in mind that little ears pick up on a lot more than we may realise to avoid creating fear without realising it.
Okay, so it is not showing your child in front of the school gate smiling broadly, but it is their first day of school and should be both recorded and celebrated. Your child can still be wearing their backpack stuffed full of stationery.
Your little ones, to a large degree, feed off your energy. Whichever way it is happening, they will still be reconnecting with teachers and other students; encourage them to be hopeful and happy about this. Get pumped so that they can too.
Some students found it difficult to see their homes as a place of learning the last time around as it is usually where they have fun, engage with family, relax and unwind. Remember that deciding on a designated area to set up a learning station is the best way to deal with this. It does not have to be a permanent feature of your home, but a kitchen table can be turned from a school desk back to a kitchen table by clearing all evidence of schoolwork from it at the end of the school day, if necessary.
Even though your child’s learning will take place at home, younger children especially may find it enjoyable to pack a bag or pencil case so they have the things they need for their day. As a bonus, they won’t keep calling out for you to find the things they need! This can be part of a rewarding daily ritual that readies them for their day at school.
Have we adequately expressed our love for routine?
Make sure your children are up in plenty of time for the beginning of the school day, have had their breakfast, brushed their hair, and where possible, have removed distractions like pets and toys from the learning area. Their schedule allows for breaks for snack and lunch in the same way their school day does – they’re used to not snacking while they work. Try and separate eating and learning.
Your child’s screen should be placed so that your child doesn’t look at a downward angle but is able to meet the screen with eyes looking straight ahead. This will avoid physical strain and help with posture.
Students should take opportunities to stretch and move between classes, at snack and lunch time and involve themselves in the movement classes that will be offered . Younger students may want to run around briefly. A game of tag or catch would work well! Older students may be inclined to catch up on social media during breaks, please encourage them all to at least get up from their chair and shake about. Ideally, get them away from any form of technology to give their eyes and brains a break. Nature can be deeply calming and soothing; If you’re lucky enugh to have an outside living space, encourage some time spent there.
Students do not have to work on academics all day long. During the school day students lead a rich and varied life that consists of far more than academic learning. They interact with each other, play together, tell each other about their lives. While this does not appear to be so easily done under the current circumstances, you will be surprised what we can do. Help your child to contact family members to strengthen relationships and harness support, and friends to connect with and develop their friendships. They should also be inspired to participate as active members of their class. We will be assisting with this using programmes that connect students with each other.
Make sure your child follows an age appropriate bedtime. Numerous studies discuss the benefits of a good night’s sleep for the reduction of stress. This is true for our younger family members as well as older students and their parents.
We know that you are the glue that keeps this all together. You’re not only the one waking up and tending to your children before school, but you also need to be the one to tell them to go to class, do their work etc. Please remember, you do not have to be your child’s teacher. If your child is having difficulty understanding a concept, does not appear motivated or is showing any unusual behaviours, please talk this through with your child’s mentor. Mentors will be collaborating to share ideas and concerns and provide the best possible outcomes for each student. Our school counsellor is available for parents and children to share their concerns at any moment, and so is Mr Rick, our Head of School.
Remember too, be kind to yourselves. Don’t worry if you don’t feel like a super parent. Your children will not suffer if you don’t give them a gourmet sandwich for lunch or are not able to recreate Mount Vesuvius in your living room. Spare yourself some extra energy where you can.
Keep track of your child’s online learning schedule. You may have to help younger students join a class, but then, as much as possible, let them get on with it! When your children are busy, try and take the time to do something for yourself or get to your own work. The goal is to get the students to learn online as independently as possible. If your child is struggling or frustrated, allow them to leave the task and talk to their teacher.
Just remember that you are your child’s main role model. If you model positive behaviour, they will too. Praise them for their work, congratulate them on their achievements and while you do so, congratulate yourself. These are unusual and difficult times and you too are moving mountains.
Green Shoots International School Campus
414/7 Cua Dai, Cam Chau District
Hoi An, Quang Nam Province