Heathdale flower 19th August 2021

Thriving Communities And Connecting With Families

Learn about how connecting with your family is the best possible thing for your household right now. We are not alone!

Heathdale flower

I know in one of the lockdowns (they are all merging into one!) I wrote a piece about how we are all in the same storm, just in different boats. The storm seems to keep raging ahead with lockdown 6.0 upon us. The lockdowns are having a cumulative effect on everyone, and I have seen many tired faces in our community. What seemed interesting and new in lockdown 1.0 when we were all fresh on Zoom calls, sending each other treats, making cool videos for everyone, baking banana bread and engaging in family cooking nights etc. all now seems a distant memory as we navigate through this next phase.

I recall a book, ‘About a Boy’ by Nick Hornby, where the main character split his day into half-hour chunks, as that was what he could cope with. It is a technique I have often used when there is a lot going on, especially recently to motivate myself. At the end of the half-hour, you choose whether to continue with the activity and commit to another half-hour or you change to a different task. I mix it up with things I don’t want to do (clean the bathroom!) to things I enjoy; my journey in learning to sew and play the piano continues. For those of you that are feeling right now that this is hard, and you are right, the half-hour technique might work for you, too. For your children, maybe even cut it down to 10-15 mins.

Home schooling is hard. There is no doubt about it. Many of you are feeling the pressure of juggling work and parenting. You may be trying to get food on the table, be a decent husband/wife, get that sentence written with your Preppie, ensure your kids have a shower, etc. You have exhausted both Netflix and Disney+ and at this point, and the film ‘Groundhog Day’ feels like reality TV. It feels repetitive and chaotic, which is completely valid; we now know the COVID-19 pandemic has created the largest disruption of education systems in human history, affecting nearly 1.6 billion learners in more than 200 countries. Closures of schools, institutions and other learning spaces have impacted more than 94% of the world’s student population.

Last night, I asked my family how they were feeling during this lockdown on a scale of 1-10, 10 meaning they were screaming and couldn’t do it much more. I got a 4 from my eldest (introvert), an 8 from my youngest (extrovert), a 9 from my husband and me, well, I’m about a 6.5. The funny thing was everyone was just keeping it all inside and we hadn’t shared this. Just asking this question and sharing it made us all feel connected, and it moved the conversation away from the nightly one of “how many cases are there today?” Now, we all had something to work with just by knowing who needed the most support at that time.

You are not alone. The way we can continue to get through this is to keep connecting. If your child needs a bit of extra help, make sure you contact their home room teacher or Pastoral Care on pastoralcare@heathdale.vic.edu.au. If you have a question about the current situation, contact questions@heathdale.vic.edu.au or Melton reception. If you think one of your teachers looks a little tired, send them a pick me up email! If the work is too hard/easy for your child, contact your home room teacher, or our learning enhancement team may be able to help. There are heaps of practical ways to help with devices etc. on our website. If you need prayer, we would love to get behind you, so reach out to any of the school staff.

The one thing we have learnt above all else is the importance of communication, teamwork and connection with each other, and the teacher/school/parent relationship has never been stronger, so if you need us, please do reach out – even if you think it is small. What might be small in one person’s boat may be a giant hole in another’s and we want to get through this together, connected and thriving on the other side.

The following article (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7444649) might give some more gems for help during this time:

Young children

Compared to adolescents, younger children demand more attention from their parents. They need their parents’ physical presence and need to engage in more indoor play related activities with them. Parents should devote time to provide the child with undivided, positive attention and reassurance.

With the aim to increase children's awareness about COVID 19, it is crucial for parents to communicate with young children in an age-appropriate manner by using simple terminologies about COVID-19. Children need to be given fact-based information with the help of presentations and video material provided by authorized international organisations which have been tailor-made especially for children.

To alleviate the anxiety of children regarding the current uncertain situation, children's exposure to news should be limited and be through fact based neutral news channels only. The tabloid news should be avoided.

Efforts should be made so that a consistent routine is followed by the child, with enough opportunities to play, read, rest and engage in physical activity. It is recommended that a family plays board games and engages in indoor sports activities with the child to avoid longer durations of video games. Parents should ensure that the bedtime of a child is particularly consistent. It is possible that before bedtime, children may need some more time and attention.

Focus should be on the ‘good behaviour’ more than ‘bad behaviour’ of a child. Parents must talk more about options regarding what to do rather than what not to do. Provide more praise and social reinforcements to children compared to material reinforcements.

It is quite possible that parents observe some amount of change in the behavior in children during the times of a pandemic. If the behavior problems are minor and not harmful for children and others, parents should consider ignoring and stop paying attention to them, this may lead to decrease in the recurrence in behavior and would also help in giving space to each other.


Apart from the areas discussed above, certain areas which need especial focus in the phase of adolescence are being described below:

Parents are the best ‘role model’ for children and home is practically the best place to learn the ‘life skills’. Hence, this is the best time for parents to model the most important life skills, i.e., coping with stress, coping with emotions, and problem-solving with their children. For each disappointment and uncertainty, there should be an alternative. Moreover, to inculcate a sense of control in adolescents whenever possible, parents can include adolescents in the decision-making process, especially in matters related to them.

Adolescents are expected to have better knowledge about COVID 19 compared to young children. Therefore, communication must be more open and non-directive. On the other hand, judgmental statements about adolescents should be avoided.

This is an opportunity for older children to learn responsibility, accountability, involvement, and collaboration. By taking some responsibilities at home on an everyday basis, for instance maintenance of their belongings and utility items. They can learn some of the skills including cooking, managing money matters, learning first aid, organizing their room, contributing to managing chores like laundry, cleaning and cooking.

Excessive internet use e.g., internet surfing related to COVID-19 should be avoided as it results in anxiety. Similarly, excessive and irresponsible use of social media or internet gaming should be cautioned against. Negotiations with adolescents to limit their time and internet-based activities are recommended. More non-gadget-related indoor activities and games are to be encouraged.

In such conditions taking up creative pursuits like art, music, dance and others can help to manage mental health and well-being for everyone. Inculcating self-driven reading by making them select books of their choice and discussing about them helps in adolescent development.

Adolescence is a phase of enthusiasm and risk-taking, hence some may feel invincible and try not to follow guidelines related to distancing and personal hygiene. This must be addressed with adolescents assertively.

It is crucial to value the peer support system of adolescents. Parents should encourage adolescents who are introverts to keep in touch with their peers and communicate with them about their feelings and common problems they face. This may also lead the way for appropriate problem-solving.