School’s back, hooray! Queensland primary schools are full of young eager minds, crying out for a return to normalcy (well, begrudgingly showing up at least). Two days back in the classroom and bam! your older child comes home with a runny nose. The school has advised you must keep the family home until all symptoms clear, or they receive a negative test result. So it’s off to the COVID clinic for a cotton tip up the nose. Two days later, your child is cleared to return. And then bam, your other child coughs…. The cycle starts over. Will my primary school child ever catch up?
Do I have to get my primary schooler tested every single time?
In a recent article by the ABC, the answer was a resounding, yes. Every single time. Which means a long wait at the testing centre, followed by, at best, 24-48 hours of school absenteeism or in many cases, a temporary return to full isolation. So, what is a parent to do now that the Queensland Schools Online Curriculum is no longer available?
The never-ending pressure on your teachers
Your primary school teacher is responsible for 20+ young minds. Young minds that have been through a (hopefully) once-in-a-lifetime upset to routine and learning. Your teacher is playing constant catch up with kids who’ve been off sick with viral infections for days, weeks or even the better part of the semester. Spare a thought for your teachers. They’re having the most difficult semester of their careers.
What does this mean for your primary school child’s future?
Hopefully, this won’t cause a major upset to their ongoing education. They’ll catch up. They’re young. They’ve been learning at home nearly all semester. They won’t lose out in the long term based on six months of early childhood learning. For most. For kids under 7, the stress of COVID has been more about “magical thinking” – the inability to perceive the reality of a disease outbreak and therefore applying fears and anxieties to the “big picture”. For some upper primary school kids though, this was a crucial year and they understand the implications not only of this terrible virus, but of its impact on their schooling. It’s not just the high school students preparing for ATAR, some kids are in a tighter spot than others.
Children who were relying on NAPLAN scores to get into elite high schools
NAPLAN is canned so kids in Grade 5 will rely strictly on their grades from this year to secure a place in an elite high school. Academic colleges like Queensland Academies and some elite private schools take NAPLAN scores into account in their enrolment programs. Students in year five in 2020 will need to rely more heavily on their regular results. How did your child do this term compared to other terms?
Children who rely heavily on a set routine
Good study habits usually require a study routine that meets the needs of the curriculum. Routine is yet another victim of the COVID outbreak. For some kids, routine is about more than just allotted homework times. Routine plays a major part in the way they “understand” and “process” the world around them. These children face deeper barriers to recovery as getting back to the old routine is, in itself, a change in routine. Be it study routines, or emotional resilience, 2020’s changes can create massive setbacks for young minds.
The goal setters
The most successful students set themselves attainable and tangible goals. Goal setting is a hallmark of good study practices. Your child may have had a ‘mental plan’ for how this year’s academic calendar would play out. It was peppered with attainable goals and those goals were key to keeping their self-confidence on track. For a child who likes to plan ahead and set sights on achievements, having everything destroyed by a runny nose can deeply impact their resilience and their motivation.
Support network disruptions
Your child’s essential support network includes:
- Their teachers
- Their tutor
- Their peers
Whether you’ve consciously built this study support network, or it’s just ‘fallen into place’, your child has you to help keep them motivated and get support with their daily studies. Their teacher is there to help them understand the curriculum. Their tutor is there to help them meet academic goals and their peers to provide ‘sounding board’ and ‘study buddy’ assistance. In six short months, they’ve found themselves in a whirlwind of change.
You’ve had a rough six months. Chances are you’re adapting to disrupted work, and a lot of new stress. Their teacher is having the worst semester of their career. Their peers are absent from school more often, and are facing these same challenges. Even their tutor has been online, instead of at hand, to provide that one-on-one relationship that helps them thrive.
But…everyone in my child’s support network has been AMAZING!
Everyone is still there to help. In fact, everyone in their support network is doubling down on their efforts to help. But it’s not the same. The support network that was once simply an ever-present and reassuring team that operated seamlessly without your child’s conscious acknowledgment, is now something your child must consider. Do I ask Dad for help if he’s working from home in the office? My teacher has six kids lining up with questions. My tutor isn’t here in the room, so we can’t do that memory game that I find so helpful. My friends are here today! Hooray! No time for talking about schoolwork, let’s just kick the ball. Same-same, but different. Your child, whether consciously or unconsciously, is perceiving a shift in their support network.
How do I help my primary school child catch up?
Be present. That’s always the first rule for helping your child. Listen. Listen to what they are saying, and what they’re not saying. Your child asks, “how are they even going to mark me if I miss the test?” Are they asking about catch up tests, or is that a surface question that indicates deeper fears? Once you’ve listened, talked and done all you can to reassure your child, it’s time to put a plan into action.
- Talk to your teacher about your child’s grades. Find out where they are lagging
- Ask your teacher for ‘catch up work’ for those long days at home, with a runny nose.
- Talk to your teacher about your child’s emotional state at school.
- Embrace the play date. Help your child reconnect with their peers and get their relationships back on course
- Help build resilience around COVID testing. No, it’s not nice. Yes, it means another day or two off school but you are doing an amazing thing – saving lives by helping us control the spread. Be proud.
- Remind them that we’re still working out the new routine and that they’re doing a great job adapting. Ask them how you can make it easier for them.
- Give them security. Bring their support network back into clear focus. Help them to catch up on any subjects that might be causing them anxiety.
Nope, tried all that, my child is still on struggle street
It’s time to get outside help. If your child is struggling with the emotional side of COVID, speak to your GP. You are absolutely not alone. It’s been a hard year for everyone – parents and kids! A child psychologist will help your child develop coping skills which will remove barriers to academic recovery. Your child’s health comes before anything else. While the sniffles may not be a major concern, their mental health should be a top priority.
Your child is coping OK emotionally but not academically
Your A/B student is now a B/C student – or worse! This is where a primary school tutor makes all the difference. Or rather, the RIGHT primary school tutor makes all the difference. A good primary school tutor will understand that your child is facing new barriers to learning.
1. Clear the way for the catch-up. They’ll assess those barriers and develop a study strategy that overcomes them.
2. Fast track their catch-up. Then they’ll assess your child’s learning language to help them absorb the most information in the shortest time – resulting in a faster catch up.
3. Give your child back control. Finally, they’ll help your child reassess their goals to make the catchup an easy-to-comprehend process. This gives your child back the feeling of control. Lack of control in the unknown is unsettling for us all, especially a person with little experience of it.
How to choose a primary school tutor for this rough time
The wrong tutor will do more harm than good. The wrong tutor will make your child feel MORE pressure. Poor communication between your child and your tutor can reinforce the notion that “school’s too hard for me now”.
After a decade in tutoring, we’ve developed the right combination of strategy, recruitment, training and delivery of tutoring sessions. We don’t just focus on curriculum. We developed our approach to tutoring in partnership with child psychologists, educational academics and elite sporting coaches to find the right balance of motivation, emotional support and educational approaches.
Does it really work?
After fourteen thousand hours of tutoring we can say with all confidence that we’ve determined EXACTLY what works. In fact, 87% of our students go from C/D grades to A/B grades, often in as little as three months. It’s not just about the grades though, it’s about restoring your child’s confidence, their resilience and their sense of security. Couldn’t we all do with a little of that right now?
Get your child they help they need before their current attitude becomes “their new normal”
Talk to us now