Parents must understand their children’s complex emotions as they try to reacquaint themselves with new routines and structures.
Imran Mojib, Special Correspondent
Parents must turn to children’s wellness needs ahead of school reopening, said experts during a series of panel discussions and interactive workshops hosted by the Child Safety Department (CSD), an affiliate of the Supreme Council for Family Affairs in Sharjah, to address questions and concerns of parents and children.
The experts also emphasised the crucial role of parents in preparing children, both emotionally and physically, as they head back to school for the new academic year.
CSD Director Hanadi Saleh Al Yafei pointed out that following a prolonged period of staying at home in line with the precautionary measures to prevent the spread of coronavirus disease, easing children back into the school environment could be challenging.
She said, “Preparing children to start for school places a high level of responsibility on parents. They must pay heed to the complex emotions a child goes through to reacquaint themselves with new routines and structures, including the practice of physical distancing. From social skills and discipline to emotional health issues, parents must address several aspects to allay the fears and concerns of their young ones while also encouraging them to adhere to all precautionary measures adopted by the schools.
“An open dialogue with children is an ideal way to acknowledge their feelings, understand their specific concerns and general anxieties. Ask questions, listen carefully, and reassure them by talking about the ongoing preventative measures being implemented across the UAE. Parents also ought to instil in them the importance of staying vigilant and safe,” Al Yafei added.
She also urged parents to remind them that they could look forward to reuniting with their friends and classmates as they move up to the next grade, adding, “Having a positive attitude is key. Express clearly how proud you are of your kids for the commitment they showed towards all safety protocols you exercised at home and outside.
“A fun activity would be to ask children to visualise themselves in the classroom setting and act out how they would maintain physical distancing. Emphasise the importance of washing hands regularly, maintaining personal hygiene, sanitising desks and items of stationery frequently in addition to ensuring that they do not share their personal articles with others,” she explained.
With both public and private schools in the UAE announcing plans to welcome students back, whether on campus, via distance learning, or a blended learning model, CSD will continue to host a series of workshops throughout August as part of its ‘Child Safety’ summer camp, which will be led by social, psychological, and childcare experts, to give both children and parents a sense of what to anticipate. The sessions will also inform parents on ways to allay their children’s fears.
“Parents can begin by taking their kids out to several public destinations across the UAE where precautionary measures are enforced. Planning a picnic or a trip can also be useful to break the barrier of fear among anxious kids,” said Al Yafei.
The CSD Director further cautioned parents against transferring their heightened feelings of anxiety on to their children, pointing out that as children frequently imitate the actions of their elders, all family members should act as role models at home while practising safety protocol.
Details of the workshops and other events scheduled for August are available on CSD’s social media channels: @childsafetyuae
According to a recent report, as ensuring mental and emotional wellbeing of families coping with the myriad stresses of the coronavirus pandemic becomes a pressing issue globally, the Child Safety Department in Sharjah, CSD, is hosting a two-month ‘Child Safety Summer Camp’ consisting of a livestream discussion series in a bid to educate parents, teachers, children and youth on key topics regarding children’s safety.
Taking place over the months of July and August, this virtual community awareness drive is being held collaboratively with Sharjah Police, Sharjah Prevention and Safety Authority, Sharjah Child Friendly Office, and a number of childcare experts and doctors. All sessions will be livestreamed on both video conferencing applications and CSD’s Instagram account (@childsafetyuae).
While many countries are still struggling to take decisions on reopening of schools at the time of pandemic, it is heartening that the UAE has put all safety measures in place and embraced a hybrid model of teaching, with many students also opting for e-learning.
The Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA) has confirmed that schools in Dubai may reopen their facilities following the summer break, provided they comply with specific health and safety protocols.
Fifteen children and youth, who are part of the ‘Cyber Safety Ambassadors’, an initiative by Sharjah’s Child Safety Department (CSD), participated in an interactive discussion to suggest innovative ideas and solutions for children’s online safety.
The Child Safety Department (CSD), a subsidiary of Sharjah’s Supreme Council for Family Affairs (SCFA), will organise the first Child Safety Forum at Al Jawaher Reception and Convention Centre on Sept.17, under the theme ‘Responsible Media… Safe Child’.
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