Fostering Relationships in a Pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic has posed many challenges for us over the last 10 months, with one of the most significant challenges being our limited social interactions and lost time with loved ones. This has had a ripple effect into our school, with students not being able to fully embrace the social components of being in the classroom. As a school, we try to support all aspects of student wellbeing, including their social health, which is why we have taken the extra step to create some (safe) opportunities to socialize!

Before the winter break, our Student Life Counsellor, Jamie, and our Educational Assistant, Brydie, played a friendly – socially distanced and masked – game of Basketball with two of our highschoolers. There was a lot at stake; the losers had to bake for the winners. Needless to say, Jamie and Brydie spent the following weekend baking! Unfortunately the stay-at-home order meant that they couldn’t plan anymore basketball games in the foreseeable future…but it gives them a chance to practice for the next one!

Since moving online after the break, our Middle Schoolers have expressed their struggles with the switching back to virtual learning, after being on-site and in-person since September 2020. Acknowledging this drastic switch and second loss of social interaction, we started a weekly after school “Hangout” where the Middle School students can have some supervised non-academic fun! Our first week was spent creating communal rules to ensure a safe space, then starting our comic books by designing our avatars and making a 3-page comic on what we would be doing if we had unlimited freedom! Our participants didn’t hesitate to get creative, become the President of the United States, and soar into space!

With the end of Octo 4 fast approaching and the extended remote learning announcement, we look forward to having something fun planned for the High Schoolers to interact with one another soon… watch this space!

The Art of Procrastination

 

As adults, we are all too aware of the struggles of procrastination. We are tempted by the pull of instant gratification, making it easier to choose the small, easy or fun task(s) first. It is much more satisfying to see the results of a quick tidy up rather than be content in knowing you have scrubbed every surface in a full spring-clean, especially when you would rather be BBQing, reading, or spending time with your loved ones. I sense some of our students are currently trying to manage similar struggles regarding their school work. In fact, one of our middle schoolers showed me this interesting TEDtalk that she stumbled upon, ironically while she was procrastinating. It is much easier for us to tell our children/students the importance of paying attention to school and staying current with their coursework, than it is for them to avoid the distractions of working from home.

With the YMCA Academy online classes taking place in the morning, students essentially have the whole afternoon to try to manage their time wisely for completing any additional or outstanding assignments. There is of course the 1pm-2pm help session available, and students can book time with staff to work 1:1 on assignments. Below, I have also compiled some tips that may help avoid distractions and procrastination for other parts of their day:

  • Turn off notifications on devices
    This may be a challenge for some students, but setting their devices to “Do Not Disturb”, Airplane Mode or turning off notifications can be a huge benefit to their attention span during class times/additional work sessions.
  • Leaving devices in another room
    Even with notifications turned off, it can be tempting to check for messages or scroll through social media sites. Leaving your cell phone or tablet, etc, in another room (or across the same room) can make it easier to ignore the urges to check a device.
  • Pomodoro Technique
    This is a technique that is designed to break large tasks down into smaller ones. It essentially requires 25 minutes of focused work, with a 5 minute break, repeated four times until you take an extended 20 minute break. This is a long time to expect most of our students to sit and focus, however this same concept can be used in smaller time frames.
  • Set a deadline/timeframe
    This transition into online learning has understandably been a challenge for many students. Setting a deadline or timeframe for school work each day can help students avoid feeling overwhelmed with course content.
  • Create a schedule
    Creating and using a schedule can be a great way for your child to learn how to manage and prioritize their time, a skill that will help them throughout their lives. We are happy to assist any student with making a schedule that suits their needs.

This is a generic list of tips and tools available, and may not be suited to each student. As always, we are happy to work with students who are struggling and have many supports in place to assist all of our students. If you have any concerns about your student, please feel free to contact us!