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The movement control order (MCO) has caused life in general to change drastically for everyone, but those with schooling-age children might be the most affected as schools stay closed.
Ms Nina Adlan Disney, executive director of LeapEd Services, notes that school is more than homework and classes. It would be unfair to draw a comparison between ‘online learning’, ‘online school’, and ‘real school’, due to the drastic difference in richness of communication and social interaction.
Because of that, parents should adjust their expectations to account for new circumstances while taking note of their children’s motivation level, well-being, and social interaction.
Middle childhood (8-12 years old) is a crucial time for children to develop integration skills, both within the child and within society. This is when children learn how to integrate the skills they’ve learned into their lives, and is when hands-on learning activities are most important.
Adolescence (12-18 years old) is a crucial time for children to develop identity formation, to ‘find themselves’ and ‘learn their place’ in the world, so to speak. This is when they develop complex cognitive skills and is an important time in emotional development.
A reason why school is so important is for the children to learn appropriate social cues and interactions from other people such as their peers and their teachers. Being indoors robs them of that and kids may not understand how to express their stress and anxiety easily.
This would be the best time to have continuous dialogue with your children. Touch base often to gauge how they are coping during the MCO. Providing emotional support and positively reframing how your family is managing the new normal will set the tone in uncertain times. Plus, it’s a great way to bond with your child.
The MCO is also a good time to teach your child life skills and out-of-classroom skills. The recent days have only proven how important self-reliance is. Knowing how to prepare easy nutritious meals or how to mend a shirt should be basic knowledge, but the fact of the matter is that many adults still need to Google “how to boil an egg”. So why not have your child help with the chores around the house and pick up crucial life skills?
In addition to that, this is the time to let your child indulge in their hobbies and interests. Children may want to pick up a new instrument or learn a new language or practice a hobby. Allow them to express themselves and teach them how to create a routine so that they learn self-discipline. Let them pace themselves and find the way they learn best, so that they will be prepared for lifelong learning.
Parents who may be overwhelmed don’t need to worry: you’re not alone. There are many parenting groups out there for parents to share ideas and tips on caring for their children while juggling working-from-home. Plus, your children’s teachers will still be around for you, too.
LeapEd Services supports their teachers in transitioning to an online teaching platform, noting a shift in dynamic among educators as they become more comfortable using these platforms.
They report that virtual classes still enjoy robust discussions and a rich learning experience for the students.
However, one concern is that not all Malaysians have access to the internet. Only 87.4% of households have access to the internet, and of that number, 93.1% of access is done through a mobile device with limited data.
Anne is an advocate of sustainable living and the circular economy, and has managed to mum-nag the team into using reusable containers to tapau food. She is also a proud parent of 4 cats and 1 rabbit.