Virtual school and child welfare
11 tips to help kids thrive during the pandemic.
The COVID 19 pandemic has brought a multitude of challenges, including how to continue teaching children even if they cannot be in the school building. Technology has enabled teachers to connect remotely with students and deliver lessons online using various platforms and applications that promise engaging content as well as interactive opportunities. However, the reality of online learning depends on a variety of conditions which often depend on the mental state of children. Therefore, it is essential to ensure the well-being of children at all stages of the virtual school to ensure that they remain motivated, continue to learn and, most importantly, continue to thrive in these difficult times. .
Here are 11 tips we recommend that parents try to maintain the well-being of students and families:
1. Create a routine
Routines are essential for creating clarity and certainty in the school day. We encourage children to approach each day like a normal school day, with a balanced class schedule, time for relaxation, and built-in movement time. At British International School Bratislava, pupil timetables have remained largely unchanged despite the switch to virtual school. Teachers are broadcast live to all students during class.
2. Take a break
Encourage your child to take frequent short breaks to play, be active, or rest. Space and time away from their screens can help them refocus and reset for the next task. This is especially important at the end of the day. We encourage children and families to get out where possible and take appropriate breaks away from homework and screens; any moment in nature is particularly revitalizing.
3. Encourage independent study
Connecting and collaborating with other children is great for fostering independence – they can share ideas, take on challenges, and work together just like they would in school. For example, at British International School Bratislava, we facilitate group work through ‘channels’ in teams. If children are struggling, parents can offer a lifeline by providing encouragement and support; it could be by giving them space, offering them help, or simply suggesting that they take a break.
4. Reward hard work
It’s important to recognize and reward your child for their hard work and successes, so take the time to share and celebrate together.
5. A comfortable workplace
Help your child create a comfortable space they will enjoy working in – ideally with sunlight, fresh air, space to move around, and encourage them to keep it clean and tidy. A study from Zagreb suggests that the best thing you can buy your child to improve their study habits is a desk. BBC link.
6. It’s good to talk
Your child’s teachers are experts and are there to support your child. Encourage children to talk to education professionals at school, ask for help, or share their difficulties or concerns. But also, the best learning happens when kids try to teach someone else i.e. you! Really engage with your child by asking them to teach you something they have learned. Teachers have given this technique a name, “the protected effect”.
7. Close the connections
Encourage your child to interact with their friends, as they would at school or in the evening. Create opportunities for them to socialize via phone calls, logging into social media or the school’s platform, and meeting face-to-face when restrictions allow.
8. Do what you love
Make sure your child spends enough time offline each day and encourage them to socialize with friends and family, exercise, play games, and participate in hobbies. Even trying something new can be a great path to wellness.
9. Acknowledge your child’s feelings
Allow your child to express his feelings, these are real and need to be acknowledged. Reassure them that it is normal to feel a lot of emotions and let them know that they are being heard and that you, their teachers, family and friends are there to support them. Encourage children to try activities such as exercise, deep breathing, mindfulness, and meditation to help them feel calm and in control. There are several websites and apps that can give you ideas. Building time for meditation each day is a great idea!
10. Healthy choices
Help your child stay physically healthy – encourage them to eat a balanced diet, stay hydrated, and get enough sleep. Consuming slow-release carbohydrates such as grains, oats, and fruits helps maintain energy for longer periods of time, unlike sugary snacks. Exercise is a very important tool for physical and mental health, so encourage them to participate in regular activity to help them feel more energized and happier. It could be just a brisk walk outside. The British International School student leadership team supported students throughout the virtual school with healthy living tips, including healthy eating menus, online mindfulness sessions, and learning lessons. ‘team exercises.
11. Parents should also take care of themselves
The well-being of your child also depends on your well-being – take care of yourself and do the things you love so that you have the resources to take care of others. Remember that you are not a teacher but rather a facilitator, your role is to support and encourage.
“The best performing schools in every country in the world are working in partnership with parents to support their child’s learning. This is true both in virtual education and “on campus”. ‘ – Elise Ecoff, Education Director of the Nord Anglia Education Group
Mark Hatherell is the High School Principal at British International School Bratislava.