Social isolation has been a big problem for students for a number of reasons; loss of peer contact, loss of normalcy, change in routine, and fear of future outlook. One in two young Australian’s say that their mental health has deteriorated since the start of the pandemic. With students now back to face-to-face learning, there has been a surge in schools' reliance on mental health workers to combat this issue among students and staff alike.
Whilst it may be best to leave addressing mental health disorders to the experts, there are a number of things that parents can do to maximise children's success in school, which in turn may also positively impact their mental health.
Lead by example
With many parents still working from home, it’s an easy endeavor to lead by example.
Why not set up your child at your home desk next to you and work side by side? This may provide your child with that extra incentive to get to work and get their homework done! Show them how they too can succeed by following your lead, and educate them on what have been your successes and failures in the past, so that they too know that you’re committed to ongoing learning and development.
Teach them that learning is their ‘job’
Learning in school isn’t always fun, just like a day in the office isn’t always fun. One of the most important lessons for a child to learn in school is that it is their job to learn everything that is in their course curriculum, whether or not they have a profound interest in the subject matter. Once they master this lesson, they’re sure to sail their way through and pass with flying colours!
Try not to be overbearing and controlling
According to a study in Child Development, the implications of being a controlling and overbearing parent are far-reaching. Not only does it affect their ability to succeed with their education, but their relationships too. The worst part - these impacts can last a lifetime! Children subject to this parenting style were less inclined to ask for support when they needed it, less liked by their peers, more likely to see friends as a burden, and less likely to complete their education, according to Emily Loeb, research associate at the University of Virginia. Kids need to be kids - let them fail, and help them to learn from their own mistakes.
Empower kids to learn for themselves
Prior to COVID, the education sector was going through a transformation phase - from a teaching culture to a learning culture. The one-size-fits-all approach to learning has been in place for a very long time, but with the evolving needs of students, it’s now proven to be somewhat redundant.
“Now, we have solutions that have the potential to transform and improve the system so students can achieve more and develop valuable skills with better outcomes. The question for us now is: How can we use technology to rethink education?” says Sean Tierney, Microsoft’s Director for Teaching and Learning Strategy, Asia. It's time we empower our kids to take charge and learn for themselves in collaborative and flexible ways. If we are telling them that it’s their ‘job’ to learn, let’s give them some autonomy to pave out best practice for themselves that will lead to the best possible academic outcome.
Goals over grades, long-term over short-term
Whilst grades are an important factor and often a requirement in going from one year to the next, goals may be a more effective way to motivate your child to perform, whether personally, academically, or other. Why not set goals as a family and motivate one another to reach your goals? Holding each other accountable, committing to the process together, and working towards your individual long-term goals is a sure way to maximise the likelihood of success. What things in life aren’t easier when shared!?
It seems as though the worst of this pandemic has passed, but unfortunately there will be some residual effect for many months to come. Mental health is a real concern globally, among both our youth and adolescents. One should never be too proud to ask for help when needed, or to seek out help when your child needs it most. As parents, there is so much that we can do in the home by way of supporting and empowering our children, leading by example, and paving the way to success for their futures.