As we come up to our 6th week of schools and creches being closed, Ciara Fitzpatrick, manager of our after school service in Castleknock offers some advise to parents:

Dear Parents,

You might be feeling guilty and pressured into creating a minute by minute schedule for your kids. You have high hopes of hours of learning, including online activities, science experiments, reading, art and crafts, baking'll promise yourself you’ll limit technology until everything is done! But here’s the thing... our kids are just as scared as we are right now. Our kids not only can hear everything that is going on around them, but they feel our constant tension and anxiety. They have never experienced anything like this before. Although the idea of being off of school for a few weeks sounds cool, they are probably picturing a fun time like summer holidays and not the reality of being trapped at home and not seeing their friends.

Over the coming weeks, you will see an increase in behavior issues with your kids. Whether it’s anxiety, or anger, or protest that they can’t do things normally - it will happen. You’ll see more meltdowns, tantrums, and oppositional behavior in the coming weeks. This is normal and expected under these circumstances. What kids need right now is to feel comforted and loved. To feel like it’s all going to be ok. And that might mean that you tear up your perfect schedule and love on your kids a bit more. Play outside and go on walks. Bake cookies and paint pictures. Play board games and watch movies. Do a science experiment together, play hide and seek with them. Watch some Disney movies together as a family. Snuggle under warm blankets and do nothing.

Don’t worry about them regressing in school. Every single kid is in the same boat and they will all be ok. When we are back in the classroom, we will of course correct and meet them where they are. Teachers are experts at this! Don’t pick fights with your kids because they don’t want to do maths. Don’t get frustrated at your kids for not following the schedule. Don't try to enforce 2 hours of learning time if they are resisting it.

If I can leave you with one thing, it’s this: at the end of all of this, your kids’ mental health will be more important than their academic skills. Even though these are very stressful times, this is probably the first time in a long time where Mammy and Daddy didn't have to rush off to work, or have to dash to the post office or go anywhere. This will most likely be the only time where we get to stay at home with our children and do nothing. So during these uncertain times, try to embrace it and enjoy it as I'm sure the children are loving having you there with them. 

So keep that in mind every single day.

Stay safe. 

Ciara x

~ Author: Ciara Fitzpatrick, Manager, Tigers Childcare, Castleknock ~

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