Almost half the world has been in the confines of their home since the outbreak of COVID-19 in the first half of this year. In some countries, schools have been forced to close to minimise the spread of COVID-19.
Singapore is no different. Under the Circuit Breaker (CB), schools have been ordered to shut since 8 April 2020. Students are kept at home and lessons continue to progress under Home-Based Learning (HBL). With great foresight, the school holidays have been brought forward to 5 May 2020 and the new school term, therefore, begins on 2 June 2020.
Heading Back to School For The New School Term
There has been much uncertainty surrounding the decision to reopen schools in the new school term in Singapore. Most parents may heave a sigh of relief to be able to send their children back to school but others view this move with trepidation.
Understandably, there is a lot of concern on how children will adapt to the new normal – face masks, social distancing, alternate weeks at school.
In this article, we will talk about some tips to help your children to adapt to the new school term so you can guide them along.
1. Set up a back-to-school routine
This tip would not be unfamiliar to most of you, as you would already have had the experience of getting your children back to school at the start of 2020. Unfortunately, the virus has upended all the good work you have put in with your children’s routines.
Reintroduce their usual school routine to them by talking about what they have been doing for the past two terms before school closures: packing their school bags, completing homework in time, getting into bed early and preparing school uniforms for the next day.
However, as they get ready for their new normal, new routines also need to be put in place. This time, you need to speak to them about the importance of keeping their face masks/shields on unless they are told otherwise, and how to handle them correctly. Remind them of the importance of personal hygiene, and proper hand-washing techniques.
Bedtime routines are also part of their back-to-school setup. Going to bed early (and reducing screen time before bedtime) helps them to stay focused at school the next day.
Since most students will be attending alternate weeks of school, it can be quite a struggle for them to get back into the pace of things every other week. Work with your children to find ways to address these gaps. It may make more sense for your kids to keep to school routines and timings each weekday even in the HBL week, so as not to disrupt the flow of things.
2. Homework completion in the new school term
During the period where your children were involved with HBL, they may have had more time to do their work in a leisurely fashion before submitting it to their teachers. In a classroom environment, however, they do not get that same luxury of time. Neither will their work be as screen-based as it was during HBL.
As your children return to the new school term, teachers are focused to ensure that tasks are completed on time. Homework will be an essential part of the new school term too, with the promise that it must be returned punctually. As part of your kids’ routine, completing homework should be a priority to be done upon returning home from school.
3. Talk about their feelings
Like adults, many children face big emotions during this period of Circuit Breaker. While we may be happy to see the back of their heads as they walk into the school gates, our children may be feeling extremely anxious and apprehensive about returning to school.
Keep their emotions in check by talking to them about their thoughts and feelings. Remember that they are equally nervous about how this new school term will work in their minds too.
Shy and introverted children, as well as the younger age groups, will find this a bigger struggle as they head back to school. Imagine how difficult it would be for them – after a full week of school, they would need to stay home for the second week, and so on. This must be extremely confusing for them to come to terms with, so talking to them about their feelings will help them process and deal with those big emotions.
It is important that as parents, we keep a positive spin on things and not communicate our anxieties to our children in such a way that we affect their moods and attitudes. Many of us may feel uncomfortable, nervous and scared about the coming months and adjusting to work and school as the country gradually opens back up.
Have frank conversations with your children, but keep things positive and encourage them to be resilient and to press forward with determination!
Parental Preparation for the New School Term
As the day for our children to head back to school draws near, we need to take time to get ourselves in the right frame of mind too. It can be nerve-wracking as we watch our children navigate their new normal, knowing that this is not the way we would have intended for them in a regular setting.
However, extraordinary circumstances call for extraordinary measures to be taken place. Our children are resilient beings and with our support, they will come out of this confusion period unscathed.
Written by Danielle Hee