Singapore’s education system has been put in a unique situation this year with the COVID-19 pandemic.
Globally, many countries have had to close schools to minimise the spread of the virus among the children. For schools in some countries, the closure is for an indefinite period of time.
An Unprecedented Change in the School Calendar
To manage this crisis on our home ground, our government has ordered schools to close for two months. In the first month, every student was involved in home-based learning (HBL). Then, the government made an unprecedented change to the school calendar, bringing June holidays forward to May and starting Term 3 in June.
With all these changes, Term 3 is now a longer school term lasting 14 weeks, with a break after the first seven weeks.
As the school term in primary schools in Singapore begin, we need to be mindful not to overlook that our children may feel nervous, anxious, and exhausted about facing a longer school term.
How do we help our children to cope with this longer school term?
Tips to Help Children Cope with the Longer School Term
1. Allow children to have alone time
While we may be concerned about our children’s academic progress at school, we need to consider their emotional well-being as well.
A longer term for primary schools in Singapore means that children will be stretched more with no end in sight for them, or at least in their perspective. Children also face the issue of feeling stretched and they need to have time to decompress as well.
Offer your children time to be alone without the burden of work in any form. Just some time to themselves every day for them to gather their thoughts and emotions will be a good starting point to work on their emotional well-being.
During this time, they can do whatever they choose to, be it read, play or just rest in their room. But use this decompression time away from technology so they can focus on themselves.
2. Maintain existing family routines or build new ones
Reliable routines help to keep children grounded as they manage their daily lives. In unprecedented moments like this pandemic, lives have been upended because of the adjustments we have to make to keep our families safe. It is therefore even more essential that family routines continue as usual to give your children a sense of stability.
While “normal life” may no longer exist in the way we know, we can create our new normal with our children at home. Take the time to carve new habits at home, like involving your children in household chores on a regular basis. Keep meal and bath times as per schedule so your children understand what is to be expected when they come home from school.
Over the weekends, what used to occupy your time like enrichment lessons and leisure activities may no longer happen. But this is also a great opportunity to introduce new hobbies that can be done at home together. Baking and cooking are excellent ways to bond – and with delicious results, too!
3. Building resilience in our primary school-aged children
Along with being mindful of their emotional well-being, this is also a perfect opportunity to instil the value of resilience in your children. While the longer school term for primary schools in Singapore may seem daunting at first, with the right perspective, your children will be able to sail through this period.
For some children, the thought of 14 weeks as a term can be seemingly long and difficult. Rather than emphasise on the length of the term, direct their focus on short goals they can see, like the mid-term break at the end of the seven weeks of Term 3.
Encourage your children to develop the Champion Mindset, a concept created by our Dean of Research, Professor Emeritus Allan Synder, to define the qualities that make one a true Champion and to make the best of any situation he/she faces.
Relating this to the unprecedented times that we live in today, Prof Snyder mentions, “In the best of times, the Champion Mindset is a valuable commodity and in the worst of times, the Champion Mindset is a necessity.”
4. Talk to your children about the longer school term
It cannot be emphasised even more about the importance of talking to your children and understanding their emotional needs, especially in this moment. Many children are nervous and anxious because the world around them seems so scary at this point. They may not be able to articulate their fears to you adequately.
Maintaining an open dialogue with your children will help you listen to their feelings and help them to work through those big emotions. Talking to them also allows you to understand their thought processes.
Change can be difficult yet exciting so let your children know that you are aware of their feelings. Empathising with them will help you to build a stronger relationship with your children too.
5. Getting Involved and Asking for Help
Parents and caregivers with the knowledge of school and the community will be in a great position to understand your children’s surroundings. This also aids the transition period your children will be going through as they deal with the longer school term this year.
If the stress of the longer school term is too much for your children to handle, seek expert advice from your children’s teachers who can help to speak to your child as well.
Making It Through the Longer School Term
Children are far more resilient and adaptable than adults generally are. Perhaps we may be over worried for them because we have our own concerns.
However, there is a chance our children may not even realise that this is a longer school term for them, thanks to the short break that they will get in the middle of the term!
In saying that, there is always room to inculcate the value of resilience in our children because this life skill can take them through many adversities that they will face in life later.
At MindChamps, while all our programmes feature components of developing the Champion Mindset in children, two of our programmes are designed specifically to develop resilience, confidence and independence in primary school children:
- MindChampion Programme (for 9- to 12-year-olds)
- MindChampion Junior Programme (for 7- to 8-year-olds)
Find out how your child can benefit from these programmes throughout their learning journey in primary school and beyond.
Written by Danielle Hee