The extended period of school suspension presents a very real challenge to parents of school-aged children.
While many schools, Shrewsbury included, have developed an online learning programme in response, they must remain ever-alert to the unique pressures faced by families, many of whom are now juggling work and school from home – and they continue to mount as children grow increasingly frustrated, desperate for structure, support and space to move!
There are lots of ways for parents to navigate the journey through to full school operation – teachers are as keen as anyone to see the resumption of normal service. Here are a few tips to keep you moving forward as positively as possible.
1. Use the resources available – on your own terms
During a period of extended suspension, schools are more likely to have over-shared than under-shared. If your children need a break or a rest, encourage them to dip in and out of the activities and tasks if necessary. Remember to keep in close contact with your school in regard to the decisions you make – it is hugely important that they have real insight into the context of each family and the pressure you may be feeling.
2. Develop a timetable
Most of us benefit from routine in our lives. Designing a weekly home-learning schedule, complete with regular breaks and time to connect with others, will allow your child to work more effectively and to develop a greater appreciation of the balance required to keep them both happy and healthy. Regular review can be undertaken together to make sure that you find the right balance for your child.
3. Stay connected
Positive social connection is critical to our wellbeing. With many parents feeling increasingly cautious about close personal contact, it is important to maximise every opportunity to connect with friends and classmates, even if it requires digital support. Use of online conferencing software will allow children to best read tone and expression.
4. Get outside as often as possible
While many local facilities have temporarily closed, we are never too far from a mountain or park in Hong Kong. Making the most of outdoor spaces, whether for a hike or a stroll, will burn off a little energy and allow everyone to think more clearly. The fresh air and physical activity will support improved productivity and allow you to escape feelings of restlessness.
5. Be kind to yourselves
Being a parent is hugely challenging – even when schools are operational and playdates more viable. It is important that you look after yourselves too. You are far more likely to present at your best if you are well rested and have found your own measure of balance. Stock up on a few creature comforts and do your best to enjoy the precious few hours that follow your child’s bed time!
Above all else, maintaining a balanced and calm view, along with a general sense of optimism (or just a good sense of humour), will keep you in check as feelings of frustration grow and subside. Hong Kong is a remarkable place – it will return stronger and more united as the summer sets in.
Ben Keeling is Principal of Shrewsbury International School Hong Kong, a primary education specialist for children aged between 3 and 11. Thanks to its broad range of state of the art facilities, Shrewsbury provides an exceptional learning experience following the English National Curriculum. Please find out more at www.shrewsbury.edu.hk