With schools closing on 24 March by Presidential decree, many of you, and those around you will soon have school-aged children at home. It is important to look after their emotional health during this COVID-19 crisis. Here’s some information & advice from a teacher to help take care of our children:

You might be inclined to create a minute by minute schedule for your child.  You may have high hopes of hours of learning, including online activities, science experiments and book reports.  You’ll limit technology until everything is done!  But here’s the thing…

Our children are just as scared as we are right now.  Not only can they hear everything that is going on around them, but they feel our constant tension and anxiety.  They have never experienced anything like this before. Although the idea of being off school for weeks sounds awesome, they are probably picturing a fun time like a summer break, not the reality of being trapped at home and not seeing their friends.

Over the coming weeks, you may see an increase in behaviour issues with your child. Whether it’s anxiety, or anger, or protest that they can’t do things normally – it will happen.  You’ll see more meltdowns, tantrums, and oppositional behaviour in the coming weeks.  This is normal and expected under these circumstances.

What they need right now is to feel comforted and loved.  To feel like it’s all going to be ok.  And that might mean that you tear up your perfect schedule and change the focus.  Play outside and go on walks.  Bake cookies and paint pictures.  Play board games and watch movies.  Do a science experiment together or find virtual field trips of the zoo.  Start a book and read together as a family.  Snuggle under warm blankets and do nothing.

Don’t worry about them regressing in school. Every single child is in this boat and they will be ok.  When we are back in the classroom, we will meet them where they are.  Teachers are experts at this!  Don’t pick fights with your children because they don’t want to do ‘work’.  Don’t shout at them for not following the schedule.  Don’t demand set hours of learning time if they are resisting it.

If I can leave you with one thing, it’s this: at the end of all of this, your child’s mental health will be more important than their academic skills.  How they felt during this time will stay with them long after the memory of what they did during these lockdown weeks is gone.  So keep that in mind, every single day.

Love and prayers will get us all through this