As we await lockdowns to be lifted and social distancing to be eased, just how do you keep our sanity, match our children’s energy, get some work done and still have time for ourselves? Think ARA and PNP.
I learned these acronyms while earning my double credentials for teaching, child care and development from Singapore and the U.K. They have since helped me better support children and their families.
ARA stands for Active-Restful-Active. The idea is when scheduling a day with children, we get them to do active stuff first such as exercise or physical play. Young children especially need to use up their energy so they can quiet down and focus. After which, get them hydrated and follow up with a quiet activity such as reading and doing lessons with them. How long this restful time takes would depend on your children’s age, attention span and interest. So observe how long they are able to sit through, then do another round of fun physical activity. For this, you may consider having them do a bit of action songs or easy children yoga that they can just follow along on YouTube or on TV. This should also free up some time for you to work on files, send an email, or clear your head and recharge.
Just some word of caution. Make sure to activate your child safe settings so inappropriate materials don't get through. Do limit screening times, too, as studies show that if children are habitually left watching moving screens for too long, when the movement stops, they tend to compensate by moving around too much, which may then give rise to disruptive behavior and lack of focus.
As for PNP, it stands for positive, negative, positive. During these times wherein children may feel more restricted, or sad that school is out and that they can’t be around friends that much, some behavior issues may crop up. The way to help children understand this is to mention something positive about the children first—a trait, a habit or an interest—that you know them to be caring or love to be around friends. Then perhaps mention how the negative behavior is affecting or hurting them and those around them. Ask them, too, what they are feeling and how they think things could be made better. Then acknowledge what they say or positively affirm their ideas. Assure them that just like them, everyone else has things they are feeling sad/frustrated about and trying to work things out too. Encourage that with everyone’s help in the family, things can get better.
Remember in these trying times, we are all learning to enjoy and not just endure, and that we can lean on each other to make things better.
Jean Alingod-Guittap is a mother, educator and journalist. She loves working alongside local and multinational companies, I/NGOs, national and local governments, illustrators, publishers, and schools to support children. She has done so in the Philippines, Singapore and Cambodia.