By: Nur Jannah Atirah Hamidon, Nurul Zulaikha Hamsah
Since the commencement of movement control order (MCO) in March 2020, education in Malaysia has been shifted to online mode including schools; an act to curb the pandemic. In 2021, schools are again closed in May as the cases leap to thousands per day. During this unprecedented time, there are many challenges and changes to be faced by many layers of life including the school students. Online learning can be more taxing than the usual as the students may face screen fatigue from long hours of looking at the screen. Recent studies also found that online learning can be more stressful for the students compared to traditional physical learning. Thus, it is important for the parents to find ways to support their children during the online learning journey.
One of the things that parents can do to support their children is to enact positive reinforcement (i.e. increasing the chances that the desirable behaviour will occur again by giving a pleasant consequence) such as words of encouragement. Words of encouragement is a powerful tool to boost the children’s motivation for online learning. The process of encouraging the children includes validating their feelings when they are whining that it is very tiring and difficult for them throughout the online learning journey. Trust them that sometimes, it is really draining to go through online learning. Next, always remind them that every process and progress that they have made is still a progress and let them know that the parents are very proud of them. Also, constantly gives praise for every success, no matter how little it seems. Children naturally thrive on positive feedback from their parents no matter how old they are as parents are the most important people in their life.
Another way of supporting the children is by drawing up a consistent schedule that they need to follow everyday. Consistent schedules can ease up the children’s anxiousness as they can predict what will happen next. Children are naturally very good at adapting to new changes, however they still need the parents to guide them. Parents are there as one of the biggest supporters hence by supporting them, parents can establish a study plan and a schedule for them to make their online learning run smoothly. For every progress that they have made and achieved, always remember to give positive feedback and also encourage such behaviour as it will make the children perform better and adapt to the situation quicker. A study plan and a daily schedule are good initiatives to keep track of their academic progress during online learning.
Moreover, to keep the children in a good condition despite this challenging time, parents also have to pay extra attention and observe their diet. By observing a diet, parents can serve food with good nutritions so that they have the ability to function in a healthy and enthusiastic manner. Studies mentioned that our brain is affected by what we consume and some food can improve our mood. Vegetables, seafood, cereal, and many other foods can help to alleviate depressive symptoms. Caffeine, chocolate and butter are some of the foods that parents need to avoid serving since they have detrimental effects on the brain.
Clearly, parents are the biggest supporters that play an important role in caring for the children’s needs especially their mental well-being as it is a very challenging time for them especially in experiencing this novel online learning journey. There are many initiatives that parents can prepare and provide for their children to make them continue feeling motivated and not fall in despair with their academics.
PdPR : Parenting (by) design; Parenting Responsibly
Boyd, D. R., & Bee, H. L. (2015). Lifespan development. Pearson.
Diet and mental health. Mental Health Foundation. (2021). https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/a-to-z/d/diet-and-mental-health.
(the authors are undergraduate students in the Department of Psychology, IIUM; this piece is written as part of the Child and Adolescent Psychology class)