Supporting Children during School closure

Children and young people can help themselves to get through this time by creating a plan for the day ahead, and they may need parents help, particularly younger children. The Plan for the Day may be followed from the below:

1. Normal Daily Routines
2. Physical Activities & Housework
3. Social Activities
4. Enjoyable/Creative Activities
5. Schoolwork

1. Normal Daily Routines:

It’s important to encourage your child to eat healthily, to drink lots of water and to take care of their personal hygiene like doing exercise, showering, getting dressed and getting a good night’s sleep should be included in their daily routine. It is important to keep to the normal bedtime routine. Encourage your child to go to bed and get up at the usual time during the week. Sleep is very important for our health and wellbeing and eight to twelve hours is recommended each night. Help your child have a good night’s sleep by asking them to leave their devices (phone, laptop, and tablet) outside of their bedroom each night. Plan for the Day During this time of school closure, your teachers may have given you a structured timetable to follow. If not, you will need to design your own Plan for the Day. Remember to plan for schoolwork, physical exercise and household jobs as well as activities you enjoy, connecting with friends and family and taking some free time and food breaks throughout the day.

2. Physical activity & housework:

Physical activity is important for children and young people’s health and wellbeing. Also helping others makes us feel good and gives us a sense of purpose. Consider encouraging the following:

  • Planning physical exercise into each day. Your child may already have an exercise routine or preferred physical activity. If they don’t or are looking for something new, there are lots of ways to exercise, for example, going for a walk or run, doing weights, jumping on a trampoline, following an exercise routine.If possible try to undertake some physical activity outdoors and get some sunshine and fresh air staying within a 2km radius of home with members of your household only.

  • Your child may be spending more time in their bedroom. So encourage them to take pride in their personal space by taking responsibility for how it looks, they can do this by, making their bed/vacuuming their room/keeping their space clean and tidy.

    3. Social activity:

    Many young people are finding it hard not meeting their friends. Encourage them to use technology to stay in touch with friends. You can encourage other types of social contact by supporting them to:

  • Telephone relatives, family or neighbor’s who may be lonely or live alone.

  • Spend time with the family watching TV together, playing board games/ making a jigsaw or helping with the housework.

  • Help a younger brother or sister with their schoolwork.

    4. Enjoyable/creative activities:

    should also be included in the Plan for the Day:

  • Using the time to try something new or learn a new hobby.

  • Encouraging your child to try a crossword, draw, paint, write or listen to music.

  • Encouraging your child to capture each day by documenting it through drawing, writing, recording or photography.

  • Writing/emailing a letter to a friend, relative or elderly neighbor.

  • Preparing a meal or bake a cake.

  • Reading a book

    5. Schoolwork:

    For post-primary students it may be helpful if their new schoolwork routine on weekdays match the normal school day, as much as possible. One option may be to follow the order of subjects as they appear on their usual school timetable. Another option may be taking a short break after what is the usual length of a class period in school. Break up the schoolwork routine with physical activities and creative/ enjoyable activities. Look out for emails or messages from your child’s school/teacher. They may be able to provide some helpful support during this time. Insisting on one individual may lead to stress and tension at home, particularly if you have a number of school-going children. Be flexible and sensible. What’s important is that your child makes a good effort each day to complete some schoolwork.

    Ten useful tips for parents:

    1. Younger children may respond well to setting up routines and taking your advice and guidance, while older children may resist having a Plan for the Day. Remind them that this is still the school term and schoolwork is continuing. Talk to them about the importance of routine for their health and wellbeing at this time, as well as the importance of keeping up with the curriculum, in preparation for their return to school.

    2. Remind yourself that having to work independently without the stimulus and interaction of teachers and peers is new for your children and may be challenging. While it may be important to support your child to engage with learning at home by using technology, it’s not and cannot be exactly the same for your child as learning in school. Your child is likely to be less focused and attentive than they would be in school. If this is the case, consider helping them to start small and increase their study/schoolwork time gradually. Encourage them to take short breaks between study blocks.

    3. It may be stressful for parents and careers of younger children if they believe that they have to be a ‘substitute teacher’. Remember you are not a teacher and there is no expectation that you should be doing extensive hours of tutoring or completing schoolwork with your child every day. Be realistic and sensible about your child’s needs and your own, during this time. Be flexible and open to adjusting to both your needs and your child’s needs – do what you can!

    4. If you have older children in the house encourage them to help their younger siblings and build this into their Plan for the Day.

    5. Remember that learning isn’t just about sitting with a pen and paper at a desk. Children can learn through baking, gardening or other activities of interest to you or your family. For example, baking can involve reading the recipe, following written instructions, learning about weight and measurement and the development of life skills.

    6. As you know every child is different and you may find that your individual children respond to this situation in different ways. That’s ok. If needed, try to support them individually to adjust their schedules depending on their age, additional needs, motivation etc.

    7. No matter what age, allow your child choices in relation to their Plan for the Day. Choosing the activities and the order in which they engage with those activities will be motivating and empowering for your child.

    8. If your child’s first few attempts at the Plan for the Day have not worked, remember this is a time of learning and adjusting so it may take time to get it right. At the end of each day, your child may want to discuss with you what worked well about the plan and what was challenging. Help them to think about how it could be improved for the next day.

    9. For many children and young people it may be difficult to stay motivated and focused when working alone at home. This is normal. The Plan for the Day will help. Encourage them to take regular breaks and praise and reward them for working hard and trying their best. You may need to consider building in a reward or incentive system in order to help them experience success while learning at home. Rewards don’t have to cost money and can be daily or weekly depending on the age of the child. Examples include choosing a game for the family to play, having their favorite meal for dinner, choosing a family movie.

    10. This may be a challenging time for families. Be patient and kind with yourself. If you can, take breaks during your day, get plenty of sleep, connect with friends and family using social media, exercise and eat well. Remember that the most important thing that you can do is love and care for your child and reassure them that Covid-19 will pass.

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