By Rozey Sembatya
There is a possibility to have schools officially open next year January 2022, according to the communication made by President Yoweri Museveni recently.
Parents have had to wait for this announcement since schools closed in March, 2020, and we still have one more month to wait.
While we wait, here are some guidelines to help parents prepare children get ready for physical school, after a long time.
- Make a to-do list
Lists save time and make you organised. Now that it has been almost two years of no physical school, there has been a newness that has been normalised.
Some things might have to change in preparation for January.
For example, if you have a child joining kindergarten, visit the schools you have in mind, find out their requirements, curriculum, places of convenience like toilets, and how safe they seem for the child.
Ask the important questions such as do they have vans? What are the safety precautions in their vans?
What happens when caretakers assault the children?
Does the school have a natural environment for children to look at some green and run around?
Children’s bodies need physical action, for it is a natural way of boasting immunity.
- Let them make lists
While you may not have the money yet to carry out full shopping, you are preparing the child’s psyche for returning to school.
Talk about the lists while paying attention to what the child has prioritised.
Do not rubbish their priorities, but instead care to understand why they have included those items. Children communicate both verbally and non-verbally.
It is possible that the child just wrote the items as they occurred to him or that he wants things that will make him more comfortable at school.
You may need to start the shopping early buying item after item so that slowly, the child gets prepared bit by bit.
You may also have to discuss with them about the need to study by explaining why they need school.
Sometimes the incentive to want to resume school could be that the child will meet their old friends.
- Resume routines
School has routines. If the children used to sleep at 7:00pm during school days, slowly start getting back to that sleeping time.
Have dinner early, prepare for bed early, and have them pray before they sleep.
All these routines make the child aware that school time is approaching. Other routines include;
a. Waking up early.
b. Reducing television time.
c. Serving breakfast early.
d. Doing some school-related work in the day (coloring, researching, reading etc.).
e. Having timely meals (reduce snacking).
- Prepare mentally
The anxiety that this Covid-19 induced school break has brought to the parents, teachers, support staff and the children cannot be ignored.
There is need to help our children get mentally relaxed and ready for school.
There is uncertainty about what classes they are likely to get into, and for how long they will be in those classes.
There is need to make them open-minded about life and its circumstances. This open-mindedness has to start with you.
As a parent, you could;
l Take walks with the children. Walks detoxify the body. Take their weight measurement too, so that the walking has a goal attached to it. Talk and share while you are with the children.
l Instead of being a ‘don’t do this’ person, ask the children, ‘what do you think?’ Why did you do this?’ Be tactful with your ‘no’.
Negative statements create tense environments. Your ‘no’ can come in phrases like, ‘Can it wait?’ ‘Is it the best thing?’ ‘Is there anything better?’
l Find out what new habits your child has learnt. This might require you to be more vigilant, observe, and ask.
When a child learns a new habit, something about them might start to change.
They might want to be alone, get new and sudden friendships, dress differently, talk differently or change their demands.
You may want to put in place more moments that get you together as a family, such as meal times, game times etc.
While at it, resist from taking over this time with giving advice. Simply listen and chip in when you can.
l Seek help in case you are convinced that the child needs it.
Some children have suffered abuse, been introduced to drugs and other substances, and lost close family members during the pandemic.
Some have conceived, some have become fathers and some have been affected financially; so, it is important to seek help.
l During lockdown, some children have learnt some skills and have even made some money.
The transition from making money to just sitting in class might sound bizarre to these ‘new entrepreneurs’.
Strategise with them on how the business can run while they are at school.
- Invite their friends
Through your child’s friends, you may get to know more about your child. This is through their actions, the way they look at each other, what they say, how they eat, and more.
Observe from afar and by the time the visitors leave, you would have known some things about your child.
While at doing all these, make the need to resume school meaningful to the child.
Rosey Sembatya is a child development enthusiast and author.
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