How parents can help students adjust to the new school term

By Greg Whitby, 6 May 2020
Greg Whitby AM is Executive Director of Schools, Diocese of Parramatta.


Weekly Column from the Executive Director of Schools, Diocese of Parramatta

Even in ordinary times, the beginning of term can be tough on kids (and their families too). There’s certainly nothing ordinary about Term 2 so far…so how can parents and carers best support learning and wellbeing in these extraordinary times?

Change can be difficult for all of us. For many children and young people, life has become simpler and more complicated at the same time. Take a moment to put yourself in their shoes right now: the most stable parts of their lives, going to school, spending time with their friends, outdoor play and sport – have all been upended.

The transition back to their studies, and soon school itself, may leave some students feeling emotional. Things have been changing almost daily and kids can really struggle with uncertainty. Kindness, humour and patience all go a long way in helping your child tackle transition times.

It’s really important to mention here that if you’re concerned about your child’s learning or wellbeing, schools can help. Not only do schools care deeply about their students, they’ve got the expertise on hand to support you. This includes professional counselling for students who are struggling right now.

Communication is the key to any good relationship, including between school and home! Smart schools are staying in touch with families regularly, in lots of different ways. This can include everything from good old-fashioned phone calls to cutting-edge technology. Hearing from families helps schools to make sure that we’re on the right track, and if not, change tack.

On a really practical note: if your family doesn’t have access to the technology or internet access you need at home, let your child’s school know ASAP. At very least, they should be providing alternative materials to help them continue their studies. Many schools have computers that they can loan to families, and there are also options to support families with connectivity.

One useful tip is to work with your child to establish a routine for the days when they are learning at home. Giving students ownership over how they get through their assigned schoolwork can help a lot. Regular brain breaks are a good approach (this can be as simple as kicking a ball around outside).

I’ve noticed the Ben Lee song “We’re all in this together” becoming a bit of an anthem for schools responding to COVID-19. It’s so true: supporting student learning and wellbeing is teamwork, and not just in these extraordinary times.

Greg Whitby AM
Executive Director of Schools – Diocese of Parramatta


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