Real Talk

Navigating Post-Pandemic Education with a Teacher and Mom

  • 0

As face-to-face learning returns, early childhood and special needs educator Liway Tayag sheds light on what parents can expect in helping their children continue cultivating a love for learning.

Two years ago, many parents were thrown in for a loop amid the pandemic as schools had to immediately adapt to the call of the times and suddenly employ different modalities of learning. This has made parents “accidental homeschoolers,” or those who have come to homeschooling suddenly and unexpectedly. This meant children (and parents) had to get familiar immediately with classes, activities, and homework did over Zoom and through at-home modules, with teachers liaising with parents over e-mail or messaging applications.

This is a scenario that Liway Tayag, an early childhood and special needs educator and the founder of the parental support platform Present Parenting Solutions, knows all too well. Also a parent herself, Tayag acknowledged the struggles of limiting children’s connection to the outside world as she took care of her son, who was then in kindergarten. “[My child and I] couldn’t do our usual walks and experiential learning. We had to navigate while staying seated in front of the screen. The stress was there because of the uncertainties, and my son craved something familiar and predictable. I would see him try his best to sustain his attention and then fidget and be uneasy,” she shares.

It was a peculiar time that parents eventually learned to adjust to amid unique situations. But as the world gears up for a full comeback, so has the Philippines — with schools bringing back face-to-face learning for children.

While at first glance, this can seem like good news as we return to some semblance of pre-pandemic life, what exactly does this spell for parents who have just learned to adapt to the new way of schooling and have seen productive results from it?

post-pandemic education

Coregulation: Helping Children Cope With Overwhelm and Anxiety

Just as parents have learned to adapt to online distance learning, so have the kids — and breaking two years of habit, especially those who only started schooling during the lockdowns, will present some challenges. “With the pandemic, it was more technology-driven, and the kids longed for physical interaction. This is the new normal, with the full face-to-face and hybrid setups, the interaction kids have longed for is finally here,” Tayag explains. “With this comes new sets of challenges, mainly on the concern for safety, and whether the kids will be ‘ready’ and ‘behaved’ in class.

Tayag adds that parents may witness their children being overwhelmed by the newness of the setup — leading to good and exciting feelings, as well as anxiety. “In this new landscape, parents need to do the same thing as before —to be present with their worries, and to coregulate when they see their kids are having a hard time. Parents may even expect elevated stress, and depression and have difficulty coping with the big changes in their routine, but there are others who can thrive easily,” she says.

Coregulation, Tayag explains, means to attune to our emotions as well as our child’s behavior. It is holding space and being emotionally responsive as children express themselves by acknowledging their feelings, instead of trying to fix or solve them right away. “Children need this as their brain settles, so they can show up and self-regulate as they grow,” the educator adds.

A Call for Pro-Activity

“With every big and small change, it is very important that parents coregulate and be proactive to watch out for the things that may cause distress. One would be setting the environment up to be safe, loving, and predictable for young learners so that they know what’s coming next,” Liway Tayag, says.

Tayag adds that this gives kids the level of safety they need to curb tantrums — including ample time to play and unwind amid the back-to-school rush.

Another crucial factor Tayag raised is allowing children’s autonomy to flourish during this period. This entails allowing them to feel part of the decision-making process in aspects of their learning rather than simply being handed down instructions. It can include choices as simple as which homework to do first, or if they want to have a snack.

Another example would be to equip children with empowering thoughts and practices, touching on gratitude and growth mindsets, helping them find things to do when they’re bored, and talking about the importance of staying curious, setting and completing a goal, and praising them on their creativity and kindness, Tayag enumerates. “These will help greatly in developing the kids’ strengths, persistence, and self-directedness,” she says.

The Best Method for Learning: A Holistic Approach

Thus, in efforts to support their children, parents would need to set the balance that will work best for the family — including finding time to pause and indulge in self-care so they can respond to their children’s needs in the best way possible.

With face-to-face learning back in many schools, Tayag contends there is no single way to properly educate a child, especially considering parents who may have first found homeschooling by accident but have begun to appreciate its upsides. “We acknowledge children have different needs and can thrive in different settings, so the best learning modality would be something that would allow the children to feel safe enough to thrive, all while making the whole learning experience joyful and meaningful. An ideal set up would be something that nurtures the whole child so that they may feel healthy, safe, valued, engaged, and challenged,” Tayag explains.

Clash of Teaching and Learning Styles and Schedules

Tayag adds that she has spoken to different parents and teachers who follow and subscribe to different learning modalities. “There are homeschooling parents who work full time or on graveyard shifts, and there are those who are stay-at-home. They appreciate the freedom of time they get while the children learn at their own pace, or at the best time for the family. [Meanwhile], for traditional schooling, there are children who thrive from the predictability the school offers, and learning with classmates. This is helpful for parents who need that extra help,” she shares.

The educator adds that for children who are at an age where they can think and voice out their opinions, It is good to take their voice into consideration when it comes to the setup that works best for them. “There are those who experienced traditional schooling before the pandemic, and some of the kids wanted the learning-at-home option, while there are others who expressed they missed learning with their classmates. Kids of age can be very vocal, so it is good if their choices are honored. There is a discussion about their learning options together,” Tayag elaborates.

Meanwhile, parents with younger children can take into consideration their personalities in terms of where they can best thrive.

Parenting from a Place of Love and Curiosity

Parents do not have to feel pressured to choose one method over another — instead take the lead in nurturing their child’s love for learning in various places. These include providing as many hands-on or practical experiences as possible, expressing curiosity, allowing room for failure, and helping them explore their passion and interests.

“This new normal also brings a new wave of opportunities for both the parents and kids for connection with other families, and it can be a beautiful experience that is something the kids can look forward to. Learning in-person like camps, sports classes, and other extracurricular activities are starting to open up,” Tayag illustrates.

While the new developments in school can easily overwhelm a parent, Tayag reminds them that ultimately, what parents should prioritize is to nurture the “why” in their child’s behavior and provide them with endless support and encouragement.

“The one thing I always tell my families is this: connection over correction,” Tayag quips. “It is so easy to to get overwhelmed with parenting and to be run over by pressure. But let us chase the why to our kids’ behavior, use language that will support and encourage, enter from a place of wonder, and trust in our child’s capacity to thrive and make sense of what they are learning.”

“Last and ultimately the core to everything: keep present,” Tayag adds. “Practice and work on being intentional, mindful, and conscious so that we can give space to our triggers, and take a look at how we respond, and practice that pause, so we can ‘parent’ from a place of love and curiosity.”

More about education?

4 Things to Remember When Choosing the Best School for Your Child
Traditional vs. Progressive Schools: Which is Best for Your Child?
5 Simple Ways to Connect with Your Child Before and After School

Order your Modern Parenting magazine's print copy:
Download this month's Modern Parenting magazine digital copy from:
Subscribe via [email protected]