Schools, students and their parents have had to adapt to a new normal for over a year—a new normal that started with schools having to conduct all the classes online in the beginning of the pandemic until they were eventually able to operate in-person classes for half a day. And while the Education Bureau (EDB) has announced that schools will have to continue with half-day, face-to-face classes for the 2021-2022 school year, it will also allow schools to operate for a full day once over 70% of its staff and students have been fully vaccinated.
With the new developments taking us all one step closer to schools operating normally again, teachers and counselling staff from international schools share how they, and parents, can help children ease back into attending school in-person full-time.
Routine is key
Children, in general, like routine and having spent over a year following a new way of learning, it will be important for parents and teachers to help them ease into the new routine to lessen the stress.
“The nature of the pandemic has added an ever-present element of uncertainty to everyday life. Routine is key and this is where parents can help the most. Routines are by nature predictable and therefore can reduce potential stressors,” says Rachel Friedmann, principal at Carmel School.
“Students feel safe and secure when they have a constant and predictable schedule. Thus, the teachers may also re-teach the new timetable and make frequent references to it throughout the day,” says Shelly Chutke and Tina Nakova, counsellors at the Lower School at Canadian International School (CDNIS). “Further, they may consider how to make routines more engaging, interesting, and fun. All students will benefit from the stability, predictability, and safety that may be provided through loving interactions and supportive environments.”
And while getting into a more structured routine at the start of the school year can be reassuring for children, Kim Cunningham, head of English Primary Department at German Swiss International School (GSIS), says it can also be exhausting, something that the school will take into account. “Our teachers understand this and make sure those first few days are filled with activities that allow the students to interact with each other while learning their new class routines. As with the past 18 months, part of those routines involves hygiene safety and what we are doing to keep each other safe. We build in frequent breaks so that the students have time to expend energy, play with each other and have a brain break.”