“We live in unprecedented times” has become a sort of by-term to explain an incredibly complex and serious topic of discussion. A pandemic, the likes of which haven't been seen in a 100 years is currently sweeping the Earth, the number of reported cases skyrocketing each day.
Unfortunately, we are uncertain as to how long this may continue into the future. One group in particular are being affected daily, and that is our students. How does one explain to their 10 year old that there is a global pandemic currently causing the death of hundreds of thousands of people? Or, easier, how do you explain that for the safety of our society’s most vulnerable, that they cannot leave the house, no school, no hanging out with their friends, no sleep overs, nothing.
It’s this very question that countless families are now attempting to answer for their students, answers that are neither easy or fair on anyone but nevertheless important. So how do you retain a semblance of sanity and structure in these “unprecedented times”? Here are a few simple things that all families can do to give that structure back to their students.
It seems fairly straightforward on paper but implementation can be the tricky part. How do you stay in a routine if your students are no longer at school for the full day? Well, with a few clever tricks and some grit and determination it can be done!
Student's growth is benefited greatly by having a structure or routine to the day, as do most adults, our day’s planned out before us, allowing us to not have to worry about what comes next in the day, and providing the drive and motivation to get things done. There is a great temptation to stagnate and loaf around the place as if this is a holiday (something I am guilty of myself I’ll admit!) allowing bedtimes to stretch long into the evening, and wake up times to stretch similarly into midday.
So, set your alarm as if it was any normal week, at six or seven am, and when the alarm goes off, allow however long you would normally take in the morning before getting up. This can be tricky with the students so you may have to help them with this, but this pandemic is a team effort if nothing else. Once you’ve woken up, grab a bite to eat, maybe take a shower and get dressed as if it was a work/school day.
And as for the students, they already have a timetable for routine, simply following the school timetable they would have been following prior to this allows the students the ability to hold onto their routine that they have had for so many years. Do any work assigned by teachers during the times in the day that the students would have had that subject to begin with, helping again the adaptation to working at home, and reinforcing the structure of the work day.
It can be similarly tempting to forgo or prolong hygiene. The mentality of “I’m not going anywhere or doing anything” to warrant showering/bathing/brushing teeth but it is another form of routine that is incredibly important for both mental and physical health! Showering once a day or once every two days, along with brushing your teeth twice a day adds to the flow of structure to your life, and helps rebuild some semblance of the world we are used to living in. It is a simple thing to do, but there is a cleansing feeling after a shower that can help clear the fogginess that tends to settle along with stagnation while being at home during this quarantine.
With all that being said, it is vitally important to allow yourself the breaks you need. We are currently going through a global pandemic, which has destroyed the structure to peoples lives in a matter of days, and this can be understandably upsetting for so many, especially for students.
For much the same reasons that recess is followed in school, it should be followed in the home during these days! Students are fantastic at absorbing information even from just the world around them. The growth and learning that happens outside the classroom is just as, if not more important than the learning that happens inside the classroom.
Making friends, meeting new people, being exposed to different ideas and cultures, having the space and ability to run around with your friends, playing games together. These are vital necessities that assist with the growth of social, emotional and cognitive development of a child.
How exactly do you provide this to your students? Mindfulness with following the school time table allows for those necessary breaks that would be followed in a typical school day.
It might be a good idea to talk to the parents of your student's friends and arrange zoom or skype or facetime recess! Having that space in the day to play with their friends, to have that social interaction in the midst of all the social distancing is absolutely vital to the well-being of students. Lastly,as students follow the structure of a normal week, allow them the weekends off to relax and play games, they earned it!
As stated earlier in the article, stagnation and loafing around on the sofa all day is a terrible habit that can set in, so include into your routine a way of doing some Convenient Fun Fitness!
For example, a half an hour before dinner every day, put on a CF Fitness video from the Youtube channel and follow along. If the exercise itself doesn't go well, at least the laughing will help lighten the mood and give everyone a giggle! You can also set it up so that your CF Fitness takes place just after s call with friends to simulate having done a workout together, or better yet, schedule them for the same time so you can all have a laugh together!
What matters most in these very difficult and trying times is the ability to stay together even if we are all apart from each other. We live in the technological age and it has never been easier to get in contact with a friend and ask them how they are doing in all of this, letting them know that they aren't alone, and that we will get through this pandemic the same way we will get through everything.
We will get through this together.