Back to full-time school not cool

Kaashifa King, counsellor and training facilitator at The Parent Centre

Being plunged into full-time school suddenly after two years of part-time schooling has been a big change that has affected everyone – teachers, parents, children and even non-parents who may have wondered why the traffic turned into chaos overnight.

The main thing that many have not reflected on is that “change is not easy” whether we anticipated it or were excited about it.

Teachers had to adapt to having jam-packed classes, full timetables, anxious and confused children, plans for fundraisers, full force extramurals, managing Covid-19 protocols, answering to anxious parents and their own personal challenges.

Parents were not prepared for all the logistics involved with full-time schooling. They had to deal with the need for extra lunches, shirts and or socks and stationery, immense travel arrangements, managing tired and worried children, homework, fundraising lists, plans for extra murals and upcoming events and other flustered parents at pick up time.

We would have to admit that although many parents were thrilled that they can now focus on their own work and not have the extra challenge of managing school work, it has come with its own niggles.

Let’s not forget our children. It has been hard for them, especially for younger children who may not have experienced full-time schooling before.

They have had to adapt to sharing their tables, less one-on-one time with teachers, tiredness, homework, remembering what is expected of them daily, trying to focus with so many distractions and things happening in their home lives.

Mostly, many of them have not had the comfort of being supported through this time with understanding and patience but have been treated with judgement and indifference.

The reality is that it has been tough, and it will take a while for everyone to process full time schooling and settle down.

Something to reflect on regarding change: discomfort with change is normal – expect to progress through stages of disorientation, adaptation, peak performance, and functioning.

Change may feel like a loss of control, and depending on your temperament and personality, this can affect you to a greater or lesser degree.

You always have a choice over how you will respond to change, both “inner” and “outer.”

You can be reactive or proactive. Tips for adapting to change, include change is hard and it comes with a basket of emotions like frustration, anger, confusion, fear, worry, anxiety.

Parents and teachers should talk about their feelings with trusted people.

Parents should help their children to identify, talk about and accept their feelings.

This will result in less acting out behaviour.

Change presents an opportunity for growth, sit down with your family and think about ways to help each other transition.

Keep the lines of communication open with teachers if your child is struggling.

In times of stress, self-care should be a priority as is buffers against not being able to cope.

Create safe spaces and moments to decompress for yourself and children.

Choose your battles, give extra hugs and kisses, cook your favourite meals, take a mid-week break even if it’s a walk to the park.

Be okay with asking for help.

Create and maintain support systems for yourself when you are going through major changes.

Celebrate the small steps of progress, that is getting through a full five-day week, their first test or oral presentation, as well as any improvement and successes, as we all navigate back to school full-time.

Change is hard. Change takes time. Change is possible.

For parent support and counselling contact The Parent Centre on 021 762 0116.