The International School of Macao has been affected by the outbreak of the Codvid-19 as have many other thriving social and learning communities. In many ways, TIS is considered a home away from home, where the students, staff and parents in the community can gather and feel they belong. While we continue to learn from afar and in our homes, the TIS Counselling Team intends to make available resources, propose advice, highlight information or suggest strategies relevant or helpful to you and your family. We face the challenges associated with being away from school together with you.
Identifying areas of stress at this time
At present, your family may be in China, Macao or Hong Kong, which will mean you will be confined and restricted in your daily movements, some to a greater extent than others. If you are limited to your home for most of the day, with your only source of information being online news media and social sites, there may be cause for tension in the family relationships. Added to this is the challenge of parents now taking on the full-time role of schoolwork supervisor for an unknown period.
Transition periods are always the hardest
As a parent, your role may include supervising your child's online learning or entrusting the supervision to your helper if you are working; this can become very overwhelming for everyone. In effect, the transition period to any new routine is the hardest as we are all creatures of habit!
Working parents may also be juggling workloads and having to manage online learning with limited resources or with Mandarin or Cantonese rather than English as the primary spoken home language. It is hard! If the workload or requirements are causing tension between you and your child, take a break and do something physical or creative.
Remind your child to email the teacher and ask for an added explanation to the task if uncertain about what to do or if they are feeling overwhelmed with their workload.
No need to quiz your child on work they are doing, this will just add additional stress. If you feel yourself becoming frustrated, we suggest that you walk away and breathe calmly to relax. Try to control your personal levels of stress when with your child so as to avoid your child taking on a similar reaction. Try your best!
Adjusting expectations and setting up daily routines
If you have a younger child, you will need to be prepared to offer more hands-on support as well as provide more structure and assistance for your child. Younger elementary-age
children can concentrate for up to 20 -25 mins. If you find that the activity is taking much longer, please stop the task and offer your child alternative activities, such as a physical activity or a game.
Middle and High School children tend to be far more independent, but confined spaces and changes to their routine may be difficult. Try to accommodate your older child's need for privacy and personal space. Try to set clear guidelines for studying and learning times, as well as chill out time each day. Your family can set up a daily routine that works best for you.
For older children, you still need to monitor their schoolwork, and you can do this by working next to them and checking in. Be available for them to ask questions, but allow them to maintain their independence. The teachers have set tasks and deadlines which you can monitor by using the parent login on Google Classroom.
All students and adults will be experiencing a low tolerance for minor problems and high frustration for things like technical issues. As adults, it is essential to model your self-management and regulation of higher emotions. By maintaining a calm, low, even voice when talking with your child, you will also help to regulate your child's emotional state.
TIS Teachers, Technology and Counsellor Support
The school is set up and ready for learning away from home. There are mentors, teachers, technology integrators, counsellors, English as an Additional Language (EAL) and Inclusive education support staff available to you and your child. There is a lot of support in the TIS school community, and you are not alone when and if you need assistance. You can try to monitor your child's learning each day in a number of ways. If your child is in secondary school, you can check-in through the Google Classroom parent login to see your child's education in progress. You can also email teachers directly if you have any questions. If you are able to set up routines at home this is far less stressful for your child.
You can only control what you can control
Your family may be experiencing signs of cabin fever. Symptoms include, but are not limited to: lethargy, sadness, depressive symptoms, trouble concentrating, lack of patience, food cravings, decreased motivation, social isolation, restlessness and extreme irritability. As humans, we are all susceptible to these kinds of reactions to abnormal situations. The secret is to recognize our current state and to self manage the level of responses to events around us.
Many families and children also have genuine worries about how long this will last. The concerns usually stem from circumstances that are out of our control, like when school will start or technology issues. It is a perfect time to focus on what is in your control. Understanding that this situation will eventually resolve and that you can only control what is in your power to control will make it less stressful for you.
Try to make a list of the things you can control, like your sleeping schedule, doing chores, reading, exercising, what you are eating and limits for non-academic screen time.
Help your child focus on the things they have control over and they will feel more control over what they are experiencing. If you are feeling anxiety yourself, reach out to a friend or one of the school counsellors.
Children will mirror and model how they see you respond to a crisis
Children reflect the behaviour and emotions of the adults that are around them. Children who are around adults who are highly reactive to world events will adopt similar practices. In the same way, children will imitate the actions of adults who model calm and rational decision-making characteristics through a time of crisis.
It is important to try to look after yourself first. Be aware of your reactions to the situation and how you see yourself dealing with this entirely on your own. Once you can regulate and manage your responses to what you view on TV and in social media, you will be better able to help your children. If you react badly, your children are more likely to feel anxious. It is important that you try not to allow your anxiety or stress levels to show in front of your children.
If your family or your child are struggling with online learning after week 2 or 3, please reach out to one of the counsellors or other support staff. We will continue to support with some articles on how to take care of your family and yourself, so keep tuned in to the TIS Macao posts.
The TIS Counsellors Support Corner
The TIS Counsellors Support Corner