As COVID-19 continues to impact many of us, you are probably asking the question - “when will this pandemic end?”
COVID-19 has affected so many people and industries globally - both directly and indirectly. Our young people, in particular, are deemed developmentally more vulnerable hence the pandemic may have a more significant impact on their social, emotional, and mental well-being. As such, it is crucial that we closely monitor our young people during this challenging time and provide support where appropriate. Just some of the challenges our young people may have faced during this pandemic are:
- Changes in their routines (e.g., having to physically distance from family, friends)
- Breaks in continuity of learning (e.g. virtual learning environments, technology access and connectivity issues)
- Missed significant life events (e.g., the disappointment of missing celebrations, vacation plans, and/or milestone life events)
- A feeling of lost security and safety (e.g., housing and food insecurity, the threat of physical illness, uncertainty for the future and/or increased exposure to online harms).
Pastoral Care & Support
At GEMS, we continue to take the appropriate measures to monitor the well-being of our students. Our pastoral care structure, in particular, ensures that each young person has the opportunity for a regular check-in with their homeroom teacher every morning. This continuity supports and enables relationship building, ultimately leading to the early identification of any potential concerns from a social and emotional perspective.
In addition, our homeroom teachers have just recently administered the annual PASS (Pupils Attitudes to Self and School) survey. The data derived from PASS provides the school pastoral team with individual student information that can uncover emotional and/or attitudinal problems likely to hinder achievement at school. This information has been particularly timely given the situation around COVID-19 and can be used to:
- Provide immediate critical individual and/or grade level support
- Aid the ongoing development of our Personal Social Health Education Curriculum - to ensure we are meeting the needs of our target audience
- Where appropriate and absolutely necessary, inform parents/guardians should we believe that their young person is at risk
5 Tips On How To Support Your Child During This Difficult Time?
1. Take the time to speak with your child about the changes, how they might affect them and your family as a whole. Let them know that it is ok to feel uneasy about the situation and try to answer their questions and provide reassurance in an age-appropriate way. Validating your child’s feelings and concerns will help put them at ease.
2. Maintain consistent routines where appropriate - routine can provide comfort. The current regulations in place do cause a change in routine which may result in young people feeling distressed. Try to keep familiar household routines consistent, i.e. bedtime, wake-up time, chores, study time, activity time, family time. Change can be difficult so try to provide some continuity at home.
3.Maintain family and other social ties. While still adhering to the regulations in place, continue to interact with family and friends. Arrange social visits and activities which will provide some level of normality and comfort. For friends and family who reside abroad, engaging in regular phone and video calls is a great way to stay connected.
4. Monitor your child’s access online. The pandemic has brought about increased screen time for children who are turning to their devices for learning, playing and interacting with friends. This increased screen time presents several issues around online safety. Start the conversation early with your child and discuss the potential threats but also put safeguards in place, i.e. restrict access to certain sites, monitor activity regularly (be upfront about this), set ground rules - particularly around what to share/post online.
5. Do not neglect your positive self-care (for parents/guardians). I cannot stress how important it is that all parents/guardians promote and engage in positive self-care during this time.
Focusing on the needs of our young people is essential. To be able to provide the appropriate level of emotional support, we need to ensure that we are taking good care of ourselves and feeling fit and healthy (both physically and emotionally).
Take care and stay safe!