Your New Normal, Our New Normal

Your New Normal, Our New Normal

With the reopening of schools, albeit in a different mode of learning amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, the Silver Lining Foundation (SLF) takes this opportunity to extend best wishes to all students, parents, educators and education stakeholders for a successful new academic year.

Life during the COVID-19 pandemic can be a challenge for a lot of educators, parents and children. Given the difficulties of the situation across the globe, authorities should definitely assess the educational, public health and socio-economic factors, in the local context, to chart the way forward. The best interest of each and every child should be the focus of these decisions, using the best available resources to reach them.

The return to school will look a little different from what we were used to before. While schools’ doors may remain closed for congregation, the Ministry of Education has made steps to move lessons online by providing virtual instruction or assignments. It is a change for both educators and families alike but it is an important and hopefully welcomed step as we usher in new modes of learning to help mitigate some of the effects of the Coronavirus.

To the students, we know that being at home – sometimes tight quarters – is tough on everyone, particularly you as young people. Now is the time to dig deep and practice kindness. Be kind to your siblings, whether older or younger. We remind you that school is important but so is your health. Take care of yourself and each other and no matter what happens, be proud of yourself and your ability to adapt to extreme circumstances. Ensure that you get some much valued playtime while incorporating your studies. Take a walk – with permission, of course – and get outside for some necessary play or exercise. Know that your teachers have not gone anywhere; they are simply patiently waiting until it is safe enough to be back in the classroom.

To the parents, it may be helpful for you to think about your child’s needs for structure, considering instruction incorporated with learning, exercise, social contact, appropriate leisure time, and calm, rational explanations about the current situation. Find out your child’s school’s plan of student engagement and follow suggested schedules. Remember that your child is also dealing with the stress of the on-going pandemic, albeit a bit differently from you. Ensure that you create a safe, supportive and nurturing environment where your children feel comfortable asking questions and expressing their feelings. Show your support and let your child know that it is not only okay to feel frustrated or anxious at times like this. Take care of yourself as well by thinking of joining a parent or community group to connect with other parents who may be experiencing the same feelings where you can share tips or receive support.

To the educators, do your best to continue to support your students and their families, as much as you can, remembering that we are all wading through uncharted territory. Provide holistic support, thinking of providing families with vital information on hygiene measures and mental health support. Reach out to the parents to help them organise a full day’s work for your students; share your tips with them. Help them to understand how they can incorporate learning into everyday activities, whether by talking about current events, allowing children to help with food preparations and linking key concepts with these activities.  

We know that you have all been sequestered at home for the past six (6) months, away from friends and non-immediate family, and we recognise that this may have played a significant role in trying to manage your mental health. We all need some form of interaction with each other and this time at home has been difficult for some. We encourage you to reach out to mental health professionals, should the need for coping strategies arise. Remember that you are not alone in this fight.

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