This article is contributed by Dr. Mrs. Vandana Lulla, Principal, Podar International School, IB and Cambridge International
As we go through another public lockdown, children’s well-being needs to be given the utmost importance. Scholastic accomplishments are significant, yet I would contend that at this point, their emotional and mental wellbeing must be our focus.
For the vast majority of us, 2020 was not a simple time. The COVID–19 pandemic overturned understanding of what is ordinary and normal. While grown-ups have had too much going on all through the previous year, youngsters have been fighting with a lot of battles as well. We have learnt that when a school closes teachers and students don’t miss teaching and learning, they miss the fun and the friendship. Now, even teaming up with their friends to finish a bunch of projects has been restricted to the boundaries of a screen. On top of all the other things, numerous families have wrestled with the deficiency of occupations and friends and family because of COVID–19. These afflictions have put a psychological strain on our children as well.
Let us first understand Mental Health and Wellbeing?
The World Health Organisation (WHO) describes it as more than just the absence of mental illness. In 2004, the WHO defined mental health as “a state of well-being” in which people can realise their abilities, cope with the normal stresses of life, perform purposeful, productive work and make contributions to the community. Essentially, “mental health” relates to our emotional, psychological and social well-being, all of which affect how we act, think and feel. Let us now understand what can affect the well-being of children.
Children faced a myriad of changes and challenges amid the pandemic like change in routines, Break in continuity of learning, missing significant life events and much more and this has affected them in many ways.
A glimpse into how we have supported parents and children throughout this unique time, at Podar International School, IB and Cambridge International.
Podar International School has always believed that the emotional well-being of our students is of utmost importance. Hence we have planned our lessons and the curriculum to suit the online scenario in a way that is mindful of the current situation and adaptive to our children’s needs academically, socially and emotionally.
While saving lives is undoubtedly important, however, our teacher superheroes have stepped up and ensured that students of our school do not suffer due to the current situation. From redesigning the entire curriculum to suit the online platform to ensure that the mental wellness of students is given the utmost priority they have surpassed barriers.
Throughout our academic year, we have ensured that topics of self-awareness and self-management which are the pillars of Emotional Intelligence have been embedded in our curriculum. And we believe that we have been able to inculcate these competencies, our students and they are emotionally resilient and will be able to manage their emotions and any anxious thoughts well.
As a school, we have been very mindful of ensuring the well-being of our students and staff. Throughout this pandemic we have constantly revisited topics that enhance the following life skills for our students:
- Resilience: Topic: 7 Pillars of Resilience
- Self Management and social skills Topic: My Emotional Health and Wellbeing
- Communication Topic: Active listening and positive speaking and Responsible Digital citizenship
- Social Skills(Respecting and Supporting others) Topic: The joy of sharing and caring, Teamwork is Dreamwork, etc
- Social Skills(Resolving conflict) Topic: Respect, trust and Empathy: The 3 pillars of conflict resolution
These sessions were conducted by our in-house enrichment team of teachers as well as experts in the respective fields.
We also ensured equal support to parents and teachers during this challenging time. Some of the following sessions were conducted regularly for teachers.
- Digital Wellbeing
- The practice of Wellbeing of children in the classroom ( regular and virtual)
- The practice of Mindfulness by teachers for their Wellbeing.
As a school leader, I also ensured that subjects such as Art, sports, drama, music, etc were conducted in a manner suitable to the online format to ensure that my students received a balance between the mind, body and soul. From virtual art competitions to musical concerts, we have tried our best to ensure that my students did not miss out on the fun and laughter.
What can you do?
- Maintain a normal routine
- Talk, listen, and encourage expression
- Give honest and accurate information
- Teach simple steps to stay healthy
- Be alert for any behavior change.
- Reassure children about their safety and well-being
In the end, I would only want to reinforce, that schools are trusted with the world’s most valuable resource: children. This is the single most important reason for every school to ensure that Student Wellbeing must be given priority in every school especially so during this pandemic, where schools have gone online and masks have become a mandate.