By Farozan Warsi

The children are back in school after March break, navigating between in person and virtual learning as well as vacations. Some older ones are vaccinated; others still very vulnerable. It’s been a time like no other. For the parent. For the child. A time where human tolerance, imagination, creativity, engagement, perception, physical, mental capacities; even financial resources were stretched to the maximum. And this was a universal phenomenon.

It is difficult to imagine a world that is different from the one we exist in. A certain degree of abstraction is required to be able to live the lives of millions of children across the world. Morally speaking we must reach out to the most disadvantaged in the world and help strengthen them too in this devastating situation, but don’t we need to put out the fires in our own backyard first?

So…. How can we help our own children?

Mental Health:

Children congregate in school. They come from different economic structures, values, cultures, beliefs. They share their thoughts with each other. Some get influenced; others influence. It is important to check in with your child what he or she is hearing and believing from school. Eg. there are instances of children having experienced suicides in their household. Such children’s take on life can be filled with trauma, anger, depression. Other young minds can negatively be impacted by this child’s experience.

Mental health issues could be moderate to severe in more ways than one. We live in times where every parent is a little nervous about the kind of influences their children might have outside of their controllable domain. Remaining on top of things, subtly engaging with your child to relate to his or her thought processes will help us guide them in the right direction.

Daily Routine :

From an easy going schedule to a timetabled one, children have had to reboot their systems to start afresh. End result: parent frustration to get them moving- wake up, brush, change, breakfast, and out the-door in time! Exhausting I know but also a time to exercise superhuman patience. Can we perhaps prep the previous evening? Empower the child from choosing his/her outfit for school to making a choice about what nutritious breakfast she/he would like the next morning? We could provide them with all the ammunition to succeed. When decision making rests with the child, commitment to do the related task becomes his responsibility.

Learning Challenges:

Globally, even if schools have implemented digital learning, it hasn’t proven to be effective enough. Forget about the imbalance even in the access to remote learning. UNICEF data tells us that one in three children across the world were unable to access remote learning. What kind
of learning did they receive then? The cumulative loss during this period is troubling. Several reports and data being compiled today indicate that children would, on an average, have lost 8-9 months of learning during this period. And this is in the privileged countries across the globe. The underprivileged nations would record a higher period of loss.

It will take time for school systems to devise strategies to fill that gaping loss. How can we help? Be aware of basic skill development in all areas of learning. Speaking with your child’s class teachers about areas that need strengthening can give you some guidance. Time can be set aside to address those needs at home.

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About the Author

Farozan Warsi is an Educator and Author who has an interest in child psychology and theology. She draws her inspiration from the hundreds of children she has taught and guided – specifically her three grandchildren. Her writing is an homage to them. Through her writing at Farozans Book Shelf she hopes to ignite a curiosity about Islam amongst this most thoughtful generation. With this specific work, she aims to exemplify the mysteries of Islam through a fun-filled genre. She comes from generations of writers and educators. She lives in Canada with her spouse where she paints pictures with her words.