In times of crisis, education is a lifeline, not a luxury. It provides children with routine and stability, along with the skills they need to heal and learn. Many families now face new challenges: how do we, as parents, care for our children while working and schooling at home, and not panic during this unprecedented outbreak?
We do have to be aware of what our children are experiencing along with the increased tension in our community. Children are definitely aware that we’re experiencing a crisis. Many adolescents are resistant to staying at home and just really want to connect with their friends in person. And so, when those activities are restricted, that can bring out some feelings of sadness, depression, irritability, anger, frustration. For younger children, when they realize that their lives are different, it’s a good opportunity for us to talk with them about what’s going on. Have conversations about how they’re doing, what they miss about school, what they miss about having contact with their friends, and then just listening and giving them an opportunity to talk about their feelings.
Between the television and online school work, children will be spending more time staring at screens than usual, which may not be the healthiest. While the psychological consequence of increased screen time is difficult to define amid everything, there are certainly physical ramifications from using a screen for extended periods. Those who are on devices are exposed to more blue lights, and their eyes will be strained or even dry, thus causing physical stress to the body. They can also experience headaches from too much time on a device.
Depending on how a person sits while using their device (whether it’s a laptop or a mobile phone), this, too, can lead to poor posture or a sore neck and shoulders. These physical pitfalls can be especially detrimental to children, who are still growing and developing.
Studies have also shown that those who spend a lot of time using technology on screens have a more sedentary lifestyle. This has always been linked to a host of physical ailments, from weight gain to blood pressure problems, issues with cholesterol, and more.
We’re looking for a sense of balance, in terms of communicating, learning and connecting. Let’s also turn [screens] off for some time so we can connect together as a family — and so that we can also perhaps engage in some other activities, whether it’s cooking, doing yard work outside, or drawing, or even interacting as a family with different games and things.
Home can be a crowded space for families trying to accommodate both school and work. With a bit of creativity and a lot of flexibility, parents and grandparents can make this period of uncertainty enriching. Think ahead and a difficult time can prove an educational experience for all.
Wong Kin Tung
Chief Executive & Principal,
Imperial International School, Ipoh Campus