Wednesday, 18 August 2021

Bincang Inspiratif with Happy Salma: Self-awareness, Support System Keys for Parents in Helping Children Learn from Home

Amid the pandemic, parents’ role to help children to study at home is more important than ever. For parents who also work fulltime, this does not only require adaptation but also a new mindset and strategies as well.

Studying at home presents a new set of challenges for both children and parents, particularly when it comes to screen time regulations. Now that virtually every activity has been moved online, parents and children have to negotiate on screen time regulations to maintain children’s development while at the same time allowing them to stay connected socially.

In this episode of Bincang Inspiratif talk show, host Andrea Lee speaks with Happy Salma, an actress and mother of two, who shares her experience in helping her children learn from home while having to work.

This episode covers:
1. Tips on how to help children learn from home
2. The importance of a strong support system
3. Self-awareness as key to a stronger emotional bond with children


Helping Children Learn from Home

While the pandemic is hard for everyone, children might have a more difficult time due to their limited understanding on what is happening and the lack of social and physical activities at home.

Happy Salma encouraged parents to be more present and flexible while helping children learning from home. For instance, parents whose children are more active physically should not force the children to sit still during school hours. Allowing children to move around, during the class or between each session, might help them to be more engaged in the material rather than succumbing to boredom altogether.

As a learning companion, parents should also help children review the materials that they have learned from school that day. Happy said that she always asks her children to recount the day’s lessons. Not only does this help children remember the lesson, it can also provide visibility of what’s being learned so that parents can help.

A survey by Tanoto Foundation in 2020 found that parents admitted to a lack of patience and capability in helping children study. Out of 1,712 parents involved in the survey, 56% of parents with elementary-age children admitted to lacking patience and to feel weary in helping their children concentrate while studying, as do 34% of parents with junior high school-age children. The same survey also found that parents experienced difficulties in understanding and explaining the lesson for children.

“When the children are learning, we as parents should also learn as well,” said Happy.


Strong Support System

As children are staying at home, parents need to establish common rules and share this with other caregivers.

For instance, when it comes to gadget use or dietary restrictions, household assistants and grandparents are also responsible to enforce the agreed rules. Otherwise, children will be confused and the discipline that parents try to instil will not take root effectively.

The same applies with the schedule. Even though the difference between school hours, playtime, and rest might be blurred due to no physical separation for all the activities, parents and other caregivers should be mindful of sticking to the same schedule for children.

“Children need structure. Full stop. And what we’re all having to do, very quickly, is invent entirely new structures to get every one of us through our days,” said Dr Lisa Damour in an interview with World Health Organization (WHO). She suggested parents make a schedule for the day and encouraged parents with junior high school-age children to involve them in the process.

Parents should also support other parents as well instead of criticizing other people’s parenting style – as often happens nowadays on social media.

“We should stand together instead of putting each other down,” said Happy Salma. “There isn’t a single truth or theory when it comes to parenting.”


Creating a Stronger Emotional Bond

Despite the challenges of helping children learn, Happy argued that the situation presented an opportunity to create a stronger emotional bond between children and parents.

“Previously, we could outsource education entirely to teachers, but today we have an opportunity to create a stronger bond with our children,” said Happy. “This might be hard, but the opportunity to nurture and educate our children does not come twice. We have to appreciate our children and do as best as we can to take care of our children.”

For Happy, creating an emotional bond with children starts with having a sense of self-awareness and openness.

First, explain to your children about your activities as well. “Sometimes we can’t be there for our children due to work or other activities, I like to share with my children about my work so that they understand why I’m not around,” she said.

Second, have self-reflection and awareness when it comes to the values that we want to instil in our children. Then, walk the talk. “For instance, when we want our children to reduce their screen time, we also have to ask ourselves whether we too have a slight addiction to our gadgets. Do we compulsively check on our phone every now and then? Are we too busy on social media that we cannot be fully present when we are supposed to spend time with our children?” said Happy.

And last, do not hesitate to apologize and admit that you’re wrong. “We all are learning how to be a parent as we parent our children. There’s nothing wrong with apologizing and asking for forgiveness when we make a mistake. When we open up our hearts, our children will be able to understand us better as well,” she said.

Listen to the full talk on Instagram @tanotoeducation.


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A post shared by Tanoto Foundation (@tanotoeducation)

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