ADVICE FOR PARENTS AND CARERS
- Schools have not ‘shut down’ – Although your sons /daughters are not physically attending school you can still communicate with the Principal at email@example.com or, in some instances, teachers.
- Don’t try to replicate a full school timetable – It won’t be possible to replicate a full school timetable for a variety of reasons. Giving yourself and your children permission to accept this can be a big weight lifted.
- Expect stress – This is an uncertain and unpredictable situation, stress and anxiety are completely normal.
- Help children stay connected to their friends – Friendships are a key resilience factor for children and young people. Most young people see their friends nearly every day of the week and so not being in contact with them for some time could be very upsetting. Acknowledge how difficult it is to be at home but let them know how much they are contributing to society by doing as they are asked. By staying at home they are truthfully helping others to stay alive. Online platforms can be really useful to help students to stay connected but be vigilant- as you have been in the past.
- Have a routine and structure – Having a plan and a predictable routine for the day can be very reassuring. As adults we like to know what is going to happen, and young people like this too. A consistent routine lets everyone be secure about the plans for the day. It is often useful to involve your sons / daughters in creating this routine, so that they feel part of the plan, rather than the plan being imposed on them. Encourage young people to develop independence by referring to their own routine/plan themselves.
- Don’t worry if the routine isn’t perfect – Remember, this isn’t a normal situation. If you find that planning and sticking to the routine is causing more stress, friction or conflict, then it’s OK to be more ‘free-flow’. Perhaps be guided by the activities that your sons/ daughters want to do. This is ‘best effort’ – we are not striving for ‘perfection’.
- Avoid putting too much pressure on academic work – Most parents and carers aren’t teachers and so it’s OK not to be doing ‘school work’ for six hours a day. It might be more important to be spending time together, building relationships, enjoying shared activities and reassuring your children, as opposed to strictly replicating the school timetable.
- Try to keep work in one place – When your sons/daughters are doing school work or project work at home, try to keep it all in one place so that it doesn’t spread out over the house. This can help to maintain a work/home boundary. We know that people live in different circumstances that might mean this isn’t always possible, so perhaps there might be other ways to ‘signal’ the end of working e.g. putting away the work at a particular time.
- Reduce access to rolling news – It is important to keep up to date with new developments and announcements, but it can be hard to switch off from the constant stream of news from media outlets and social media. Reduce the time spent hearing, reading or watching news – at the moment it might be overwhelming for adults and children. Try to protect children from distressing media coverage.
- Provide reassurance about State Exams – Young people may now be concerned that the State Examinations later this year may not be going ahead in their original format. They may feel like all their hard work has been for nothing but encourage them that all that they are doing now will stand to them in the future. Acknowledge that it is a bit uncertain right now and assure your sons/daughters that the Department of Education is working on a plan.
Adapted from document published by the Division of Educational and Child Psychology (DECP) British Psychological Society (BPS)