• Phoenix Education

Round 2: #KidsCovidMH

This week, we enjoyed another #KidsCovidMH twitter chat focused, this week, on the impact of non elective home schooling. We asked a number of questions and were pleased that a number of parents were happy to share their ideas and experiences with us.

If there is anything you would like to add to the conversation, please do so by simply using #KidsCovidMH in your tweets.

This week, we initially asked, ‘How is your child engaging in learning whilst in lockdown?’. We have found that parents have been faced with everything from sulking and anger through to total refusal.

We felt that before we could offer advice or suggest ways in which we might be able to improve engagement in education, that it was important to acknowledge that a lack of motivation is something that has impacted all of us - and in these unprecedented times, we expect things to be challenging.

However, with this new version of normal, expected to last beyond the summer months, it is important that we minimise the risk this period of non elective home schooling will have on the future of our children’s education.

To improve levels of engagement, it is important to initially understand how your children would like to learn, which areas of their education capture their attention, which aras provide them with confidence, are their subjects that utilise interaction or subjects that your child can complete with their friends?

We shared some experiences of understanding the individual differences within engagement - and the preferences different people show in relation to an appropriate working environment. We found that many people find silence distracting and work well with background noise. Some parents spoke about space, how to minimise interruptions from other siblings and how to give equal priority and regard to all of the people wanting to work in a household.

When we asked the twitter community what types of behaviour their children have been displaying at learning times, we found that many parents had noticed that their children were being slow with their work, lacking confidence and the focus and motivation they usually have at school. We found that some children need more incentives, more support and encouragement than they would at school but agreed with so much change and uncertainty, this is totally understandable. As with last week’s conversation we found that changes in behaviour varied significantly - from some children feeling calmer and generally happier whilst others are tearful, angry and sad. With so many of us facing a variety of emotions, it’s imperative that we distinguish between ‘normal’ behavioural responses to Covid19 and abnormal behaviours that communicate an unfulfilled need. We discussed that our tolerances may change as parents and in such difficult times, we may have to compromise on our usual values and ‘pick our battles’ in order to achieve some level of harmony in your household.

In school environments, recognising and praising children is an essential part of our teacher’s toolkit. With children at home, experiencing a variety of emotions, it’s imperative for us to continue to recognise our children’s efforts and praise them accordingly. We discussed what that recognition and praise might look like for our children - how frequently they will need reward, how quickly they need praise and what is most valuable to them at this time. As part of our conversations last night, we explored utilising our attention and time to reward children, particularly when we live in busy, multi child households.

Closely linked to recognition and reward is your child’s sense of confidence and motivation. With so many questions and uncertainty about their future, it can be difficult for children to feel motivated at the moment. Some children may be wondering if and when they will return to school, they may have concerns about the impact COVID19 will have on everything they consider to be normal and what it will mean in terms of their opportunities. It can be useful to re frame aspects of the curriculum to make it relevant and consider what else we can teach our children during this time that will build their confidence in other areas. Consider reviewing usual reward and/or pocket money structure to improve their motivation and where possible build tasks into your daily schedule that you know brings your child happiness and supports their self esteem.

In connection with this, we explored the impact COVID19 has had on children’s long term ambitions. Although many children will be focused on their immediate ambition to return to school, those children in year 11 are the most vulnerable with regards to the long term impact this will have. Although we are confident that the Department of Education will provide a solution and support for their transition into further education, there are many questions that we are simply unable to answer. Rather than trying to reassure your children, be honest with them, show your own vulnerability whilst providing them with confidence in the department of education and all of those that have worked to support the NHS, key workers and our nation's response to COVID19.

Our favourite question of our #KidsCovidMH chat was based on belonging, which we believe is the foundation of good mental health. We acknowledged the importance of maintaining connection with your child’s teacher and their ‘classroom’. We reinforced how important it is to maintain relationships with the important adults your children have in their lives - facilitate phone calls, face time if possible and ensure that your children know they are still important to the adults that help them feel that they belong. More so than ever, it is important to also reinforce the strength of your family unit at this time. Practice family traditions, play the games that are family favourites. Spend time together, united and reminding one another what is most important and where you most belong.

If you have any questions around your children’s mental health or their ability to learn in lockdown, then do contact us at any time using #KidsCovidMH and we hope you will join us for a chat at the same time next week, 8pm on Tuesday..