How To Manage Stress From Online Learning Due to Coronavirus

Maximus Escouri

An approaching winter means school lockdowns in Australia could remain in place for months. NSW Premier – Gladys Berejiklian – announced a staggered start approach that is still not very clear for many Aussies. Victoria’s Premier – Dan Andrews – recently warned that school will look very different in Term 2. According to Andrews, any child who can learn at home should continue to do so even as school reopens students who cannot study from home.

Kids studying from home can be stressful for both the child and his/her parents. Attending school is stressful for some students because of the amounting schoolwork and social media pressures. Combine this with a new reality of having to study alone at home without all the normal activities of school life and you have a potentially harmful situation for the child’s mental, physical and emotional health.

Knowing how to recognise signs and symptoms of stress and taking preventive measures to minimise these can help your child through this difficult period of school closure due to the virus.

How to tell your child is stressed from studying at home

coronaviurs mother and daughter

Stress is the function of your child’s ability to meet the demands placed on him/her. Stress can come from external factors like school, peers, and family. It can also come from internal factors like your child’s perception of his/her abilities.

Stress from school can be overwhelming to kids. Children of all ages (including pre-schoolers) can experience stress and anxiety. Stress can intensify because of events that are happening around them. School closure as a result of the coronavirus outbreak has stopped all normal activities like going to school, studying in a classroom and playing in the playground. Your child can easily feel frightened and vulnerable during these difficult times.

While it may not be easy to recognise a child’s stress and anxiety, sudden behavioural changes like tantrums, disobedience, rudeness, and withdrawal can be indications that your child is suffering from stress.

How to reduce home-schooling stress in your child

Parents can help their children manage school-related stress by teaching them healthy habits that promote mental health.

Here are some things you can do to reduce home-schooling stress during a school lockdown:

1. Help your child understand about coronavirus

Explaining the global pandemic to your child is the first step to helping them understand the impact it is having on their world. You can do this by turning it into a lesson. Discuss the history of global epidemics and pandemics (for example, the plague, Spanish flu, SARS and so forth). Explain about the science behind coronavirus, what it is, how it spreads and the efforts carried out around the world to slow down its spread. Teach them about the importance of handwashing. Explain social distancing, and quarantine to help them understand why they have to stay away from school for the time being.

If you are looking for some great resources to teach your child about coronavirus, try the New York Times Learning Network, UNICEF and Royal Melbourne Children’s Hospital websites.

2. Take time to discuss their feelings

Take time between lessons each day to discuss how they are feeling about studying from home. If your child can’t or won’t talk about their feelings, try talking about your feelings instead. Talking about your work from home experiences shows you are both in similar circumstances and may encourage them to be more open about their feelings.

3. Cut them some slack

It is okay to hit the ‘pause’ button during study-at-home lessons if you think your child’s attention is waning or if your child is starting to complain. At Top Kidz Academy, the teacher and classmates make learning fun and interesting. On their own at home, some children will struggle to stay focussed. Six-hour structured classrooms are not mandatory when your child is studying online particularly if your child is young. Use your judgement to decide if lessons for the day should be halted.

4. Promote wellness

The physical health of your child will promote his/her mental wellbeing. Ensure your kid is having plenty of exercise during the quarantine. Indoor exercises like online yoga and dance classes can keep your child physically healthy during coronavirus self-isolation.

Outdoor exercises are equally important. There are plenty of activities children can do on their own outdoors including skateboarding, cycling around the yard or kicking a ball. To make exercise more fun and engaging for your child, make time on weekends to participate in family-oriented activities like a backyard cricket match, family touch-rugby, or a walk around your local park.

TopKidz Sydney runs special yoga and fitness classes for children and toddlers. Get $100 off our classes by using your NSW Active Kids voucher. Vouchers can be used for online classes. 

During self-isolation, your child must eat a healthy and balanced diet. Prepare a healthy lunch for them during school days. Do not stockpile junk food just because they are home but encourage them to eat plenty of fresh fruits instead.

The simple things you do to reduce your child’s stress will improve his/her ability to focus and to learn. Remember that school closure because of the virus is not going to be permanent and there will come a day when things will become normal again.

What Issac Newton and Shakespeare did during their quarantine time?

The Great Plague (1665-1666) was a major bubonic plague that occurred in England. The plague killed 100,000 people or a quarter of the population of London.

At the time, Isaac Newton was studying at Cambridge University. To stop the plague from spreading, the university practiced a form of ‘social distancing’ by stopping classes and sending students home to continue their studies.

Newton spent the year studying from home. He improved on the mathematical problems he learned at Cambridge. He later wrote academic papers on the topic which eventually became early calculus. Stuck at home in self-isolation, he experimented with prisms which became the foundation for his theory on optics. The story of the famous apple tree happened while he was at home. According to his assistant, John Conduitt, he was musing in the garden when it occurred to him that the gravity that caused the apple to fall from the tree may not just be limited to a certain distance from earth but could be extended beyond that.

Sixty years earlier in 1606, the plague also devastated London. William Shakespeare was forced to shut down his theatre company ‘The King’s Men’ to prevent the plague from spreading. The plague was rumoured to have reached close to Shakespeare’s London home where he was practicing self-isolation. King Lear – one of Shakespeare’s most famous tragedies was written between 1605 and 1606.

Stay Safe!

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