Coping with School Closures – Advice for Parents

We are passing through a particularly troubling time in our society — the age of the novel Coronavirus now officially named as Covid-19. The WHO has labelled it a global pandemic, and already tens of thousands of people around the world are infected, with governments all over Europe, North America and Asia scrambling to contain the spread.

 

One of the most commonly proposed measures has been to close down schools and require people to engage in what we are calling “social distancing.” That means avoiding crowded places and isolating ourselves as best we can in our homes. In China, these policies have been instrumental in limiting the spread of the virus and turning the tide against it.

 

As parents, wherever we are in the world, the same things concern us about these policies of isolation and containment in the home. The first of these is how we support our children through this challenging time, and the second is how we cope with our child(ren) at home all day and unable to go out.

How you can support your child in the age of Covid-19

1. Don’t panic

You and your children’s teachers are two critical points of authority that they will look to during a crisis. Whatever their outward display of mood, the fact is that kids crave structure and guidance and respond positively when it is shown. You are part of that mature, measured bulwark of reason and serenity.

You have to lead by example, reminding the children not to believe online rumours and social media “news.” Find practical and balanced information to show them and prove to them that while this is a difficult time, the actual danger is not so high and as long as we all do our bit to contain the disease, we will get back to normal quickly.

2. Keep a store of nutritious but non-perishable food

Cooking family meals and eating together is an excellent way to keep a sense of structure, routine and order in the family. Favour non-perishable food items so that you can minimize the number of trips you have to take to the supermarket.

Your kids will function better on real, home-cooked food. You will too. It’s also an excellent opportunity to sit, talk about your day, share your feelings and give the reassurance that comes from strong familial bonding.

3. Enforce hand-washing and cleaning up

It’s more than likely that you have a strict regime of washing hands before meals and cleaning up after yourselves. However, just in case you’ve gone lax a little in the last few months, now is the perfect time to support the family’s health by encouraging regular hand-washing and cleaning around the house. 

4. Keep the kids busy

The final, but incredibly important and effective way you can support your kids in Covid-19 is to keep them as active and productive as possible. Keeping their minds on hobbies, school work and fun activities in their downtime is an excellent way to use the time in isolation well. An occupied mind is further from worry. You can again lead by example by busying yourself with things — chores, reading, documentaries, music and more.

How to cope with everyone at home all-day

It sounds odd initially to worry about dealing with the kids at home, but it’s not that part we are worried about, right? It’s how we can avoid feeling stressed; like we’re trapped together and getting under each other’s feet and skin. Here are some ideas:

1. Have some outdoors time – just not in crowded places

If you’re lucky enough to live in relatively remote areas, there are likely many great places you could go together to enjoy some fresh air and outdoors time. As long as you take proper precautions, like bringing hand sanitizer, and avoid situations with crowds of people, it is okay for you to step out for a while.

2. Ease up on the rules

It’s easy for parents to fall into the trap of being overly strict during difficult times, but don’t forget that every action has an equal reaction. The removal of outside freedom for your kids means you have to react by giving them a bit more licence at home. Don’t get worried if they break a rule or two, seem unresponsive to your input, or are spending a lot of time on their smartphone or computer. These are tools for giving a window to the outside, so we shouldn’t begrudge them these things.

It’s a hard time for us all, and by using our empathy and understanding, we can get all suffer the sacrifices more easily and effectively.

3. Stay in good humour

Tickle the family funny bones with plenty of light entertainment and fun. Laughing and joking together through comedy shows, board games and more can help release any tension and maintain a jovial and therefore productive mood throughout the household.

In conclusion…

Covid-19 is a test for all of us a society. Our patience, mettle and stoicism are being tested, and for many, it’s happening for the first time. We’ve given our kids a lot of comfort and privilege, but now a real hardship has come. By supporting your children and pulling together as a family, you will not only thrive in the age of Covid-19 but also grow stronger as a family unit; your bonds strengthened for years to come. See the positives and stay safe.