School-age children are among the groups most affected by the coronavirus pandemic. Especially the parents of children who have just started school life, even if all the necessary measures are taken at school, "How will we protect our children? looking for answers to the question. Dr. Memorial Şişli Hospital Child and Adolescent Mental Health Department. Leyla Benkurt Alkaş made important suggestions to the parents of children who started school for the first time.
Kindergarten students and first graders started going to school in a different system this year. The new school year will be a different experience for parents due to the coronavirus. It is known that in schools, children will be taught health information, the importance of social distance and the use of masks or contactless games. Children will receive two days of face-to-face training and three days of online training in the other weeks. At this point, parents have a big duty. Working parents take time off from their jobs during these first days of school; It would be appropriate for the child, the household, and himself to learn the system and support the adaptation process. For face-to-face training, the child will need to be accustomed to leaving home.
The school should be explained to the child that it is safe
Parents must first of all get accurate information about the pandemic themselves. In this process, it will be instructive to do practical exercises about using masks, social distance and hand hygiene with children. Children may be anxious during this period. It's normal. In this case, he should be told that the school is safe. The child should be taught by his teacher how to clean his hands. Children in this period can often put their hands in their mouths. The cause of the disease should be conveyed to the child in an appropriate language. Parents need to be careful about both their children's physical and mental health in this process. Suggestions for parents for children who will go to school during the pandemic period can be listed as follows:
1. Help him regulate his daily rhythm: Sleep, meal, game hours should be arranged in line with school and class hours. One should not eat while listening to the lesson. Toys should be kept in a separate place throughout the lesson and should not be seen.
2. Be prepared for separation anxiety to be more frequent and severe: Particular attention should be paid to this process as children spend more time with their parents during the pandemic period. The anxious attitude of the families, the negative atmosphere in the news every day, and the change in daily routines in general will make it difficult for the child to leave the family and get used to school. If possible, it will be useful to go to school, visit the school, play in the garden, meet teachers and school staff, especially with children who are sensitive about separation and do not like changes. It may be helpful for the child to see the classrooms and know where toilets and sinks are located.
3.Anxiety can turn into panic and psychosomatic illnesses: Physical diseases such as abdominal pain, nausea and headache can be seen in children during school hours. However, it will be possible to relax at the weekend and forget when he gets into the game. Sometimes going to school, crying at the time of entering the classroom, heart pounding, trembling, discolored, panic rushing behaviors may occur. Situations such as never leaving the family at home, wanting to sleep with the parents or crying may occur. While psychiatric support is recommended when this table normally lasts for 2-3 weeks, it will be appropriate to seek help if the complaints persist for at least 1 month during this period.
4. Celebrate your child starting school: The child should be made to feel how honored and exciting it is to start school and how beautiful it is.
5. In particular, never use screens and phones as rewards: If the device that the child uses for online lessons is a game tool before, it will be correct to turn this device off to game applications. When the lecture or homework time is over, no games should be played on this device. Instead, it would be better to go outdoors or play home games.
6. As a young child, don't neglect the need for play: The child should be given the opportunity to draw lots of pictures to express his feelings and experiences and to share what he learned at school. He should be encouraged to read more stories and tell pictures. At first, the attention span will gradually increase while it is very short.
7. Be calm, tolerant and courteous, be solution-oriented: Until the child adapts to the new teaching style, there should be a closer communication between the teacher, the child and the parents. For this reason, the positive attitudes of the child should be conveyed to the teacher and the child should be encouraged about the teacher. In addition, it is necessary to avoid jokes, words and behaviors that will cause children to perceive the teacher negatively. It would be good to encourage children to learn the name of their friends and to ask questions in class. It should not be in a hurry to learn to read and write.
8. Be aware of developmental psychiatric diseases: After starting school, families should be good observers about the diseases that are noticed by the teacher and that disrupt the child's learning and social adaptation. If they see symptoms of learning disorder, dyslexia, hyperactivity and attention deficit, oppositional disorder, retardation in fine motor development, speech disorder, it is appropriate to seek help from school guidance and a child and adolescent psychiatrist.