Parents – The Virtual Learning Survival Guide





Dear Parents:

As the Coronavirus continues to shake up all of our lives and catapult us into new and previously untested ways of functioning, the counseling department would like to offer you some thoughts, pondering, and resources that we think may be useful for your family during this time.

We have discussed and worked through the many facets of this experience. We have processed (and continue to process) the ways in which we as faculty members are managing the feelings (ambiguity, fear, frustration, etc.) attached to our current situation, and we have used our knowledge of your children and their developmental needs to envision the kinds of scenarios you may be facing as parents during this period of uncertainty.

In order to provide some connection, communication, and support to you, we have compiled an initial list of resources that have been categorized by the unique aspects of this situation – conflicts and struggles we can imagine you might be facing with your children. Certainly, this is not a comprehensive list and our hope is to continue to create an opportunity to share resources with you as we learn more about the kinds of challenges you are facing with your children.

It is important for you to know that we are available and ready to support you and our students in whatever ways we can. We are available by email should you have any specific questions or concerns you would like us to help you work through. Please feel free to contact us to suggest topics that you believe our community of parents and students can benefit from.


Anxiety and Fear

The sudden onset and growing concerns of the Coronavirus have taken all of us out of our routines and placed us into unknown territory. During this time, there are many things that feel out of our control. Feelings of powerlessness and hopelessness in our lives very often trigger negative emotions such as anxiety and fear. This is true for both children and adults. Understanding our students both personally and developmentally, we can imagine that as parents you are experiencing a wide range of reactions from your kids, which will likely evolve as time goes by.

The constant blasts of conflicting information on the news, on social media, and throughout ongoing conversations create stress and uncertainty for even the strongest among us. Fortunately, as adults, we have the capacity to sift through the constant chatter and take it all with a “grain of salt.” We take it one day at a time. We know intellectually that we are not doomed forever as a result of this virus, even if it’s a stressful experience.

Children, however, have not necessarily developed the skill of recognizing how the media sensationalizes and dramatizes information for its own gain. As a result, it is likely that the constant sources of conflicting information can feel completely overwhelming and terrifying. In addition, students have now been tasked with the challenge of engaging in online learning, which is new for everyone. Add to that the potentially limited access to technology, time differences, worry about “doing it right” or being successful, lack of daily routine, being away from home, and missing friends/family members, it is easy to imagine that our students may be experiencing new or increased levels of stress, fear, and anxiety,

Below we have included some articles and videos for parents who would like tips and tricks for helping children who may be experiencing strong emotions such as anxiety and fear.

Anxiety and Fear Videos


Organization, Time Management, and Self Regulation

One of the most important ways that you as parents can help students successfully navigate the virtual learning experience is to focus on helping your child organize themselves, create a routine, and manage their time. This is essential for most children who are still strengthening these important executive functioning skills. We recommend that you take an active approach in helping them to create routine and structure during this uncertain time in order to enhance their potential for success.

Organization, Time Management, and Self Regulation Videos


Mindfulness

At SCIS we are working to incorporate Mindfulness practices into the lives of our students. Among many other things, mindfulness practices such as meditation and breathing exercises have been directly linked to a decrease in stress and anxiety, an increase in confidence and self-esteem, an ability to better manage strong emotions, and even improved grades! If you are finding that you or your children are experiencing challenging emotions as a result of our current circumstances, we suggest you consider incorporating some of these mindfulness exercises into your lives. It may help everyone adjust! 

Mindfulness Videos


Motivation

At the moment, many of you are sitting on the beach, nestled into your resorts, in your hometown surrounded by family and friends, or you may be in Shanghai trying to balance your job and parenting and helping structure virtual learning time. We all went from being on holiday where we were experiencing peace, freedom, and fun to suddenly find ourselves in a different situation with the need to work and study rather than play. It’s no doubt a challenge to get into the swing of things with all of the conflicting stimuli around us.

We can imagine that for some of your children, getting motivated to do homework rather than swim in the pool or sleep all day is a very real part of your current reality. Adolescents are already famous for lacking motivation so this specific situation may pose some serious challenges for your kids over the next few weeks. Below are some resources on how to conceptualize your attempts to motivate your kids, including things to do and things to avoid.

Motivation Videos


Transitions and Changes

At SCIS, students, faculty, and staff are uniquely familiar with the concepts of change and transition. That being said, familiarity doesn’t necessarily make these experiences any easier to navigate. As adults, we are developmentally equipped to more effectively manage the internal experiences of the “unknown,” whereas children can easily become overwhelmed by their emotional experience and may be inclined to “act out” emotionally or behaviorally as a way of communicating their internal confusion. If you are noticing that your child’s behavior, attitude, or emotions are markedly different during this time, it is likely that they are struggling with an internal emotional experience that they have not yet learned how to communicate effectively. It is important for parents to recognize the potential experiences that their child may be having, validate those experiences, and give time, space, love, and acceptance while they work through their complicated feelings.

Transitions and Changes Videos