Dear Parents and Caregivers,
The world as we know it is in a state of change, and we are all impacted. Pearl-Anne and I are writing to assure you that we are continuing to work alongside our Teaching Staff, Pastoral Care Team and College Leadership to ensure that our students are supported in an age-appropriate manner. Please be assured that we are all working together – carefully and prayerfully.
We have listed a number of key recommendations below, that may assist you as you navigate this unfamiliar season with your children. We believe that there are some key principles which undergird a positive response to the current Coronavirus challenge. We hope that you find them both practical and useful. They are certainly not meant to be comprehensive, but they may provide a starting point for further conversations.
1. Remain Calm
It’s important to be aware of your own emotional response at this time. Children and young people have the capacity to absorb the emotional environment which surrounds them. There needs to be an awareness of the impact of media exposure which has the potential to increase stress. As adults, it is important to be mindful of the conversations which are in earshot of children. They need to hear trusted people in their world speaking calmly and confidently, e.g. ‘There’s a lot of change happening but we’ll get through this.’ Children will feel safer when information is shared with them in an honest, age-appropriate manner.
2. Be Available and Responsive
Children need to know that there are older, wiser people caring for them. Being available when they initiate conversations or questions will reinforce their security, and communicate that they are not alone.
3. Reinforce Healthy Practices – Stay Informed
Wash your hands! The message is clear, but it bears repeating. Add songs to accompany the process. ‘We’re doing this to keep ourselves and others safe’. Modelling is critical here in order for the message to be clear and consistent. Checkout this video we have been watching on Middle and Secondary Campus.
4. Maintain Routines
Routines are built into everyday life. They provide consistency and predictability, thus assisting a child (or adult) to manage change. There may be the need to establish new routines at this time, but try to maintain those already established, e.g. meal times, bed times, reading together and fun activities. Time to play is particularly important.
5. Stay Connected
We all share the need for relationships. Thankfully we have digital means for keeping in touch with family and friends when physical circumstances change. Let’s use our phones as phones! It’s also important for children to hear that others, especially grandparents, are also keeping safe.
6. Look for Ways to Help Others
Involve your children in conversations about this. This is a wonderful learning opportunity for them, and for all of us. Children have amazing creativity. You have probably heard some stories of innovative care initiated by children.
7. Appreciate Teachable Moments
This is a great opportunity to share your own stories of courage and resilience during times of unexpected challenge. We have motivation and time to share them now. You may be surprised at the power of these family stories.
8. Observe your Child’s Behaviour
Children may not have the words to tell you how they’re feeling, but their behaviour will communicate clearly. Regardless of your child’s age, this is very important. They may be more clingy than usual, or quieter. Because you know your child, you will notice these changes. Remain calm and reassuring. They need to know that you are with them, and that they are safe. Seek advice if you are concerned about them.
9. Respond Creatively to the Extra Family Time
This will ensure that you and your family are protected from the impact of boredom and fear. School holidays will take a different shape this year, so this will apply to all of us. We are daring to believe that there will still be laughter and fun in our days.
10. Trust God
We have an unexpected opportunity to live out our faith today and in the coming days. Let us remind ourselves that God is with us in the midst of confusion and anxiety. He remains the same and His promises are secure. Pastor Saskia and the Chaplains are available to share further in this area.
Please contact us by email if you would like to speak further, or if you are concerned about your child. We will be happy to arrange a suitable time for a phone or face to face conversation. We appreciate that this is a challenging time for parents and caregivers, and we are here to support you.
May the Lord continue to strengthen and protect us all as we walk together through these days.
Loris Henry, Middle and Secondary Campus College Counsellor and Pearl-Anne Claassen, Primary Campus Counsellor