Tag: <span>COVID-19</span>

Back to school after COVID-19 Dr. Marisa van Niekerk Educational Psychologist Midstream Pretoria

Back to school after COVID-19

Back to school after COVID-19

Children will be going back to school after COVID-19. Many parents are struggling with the following question, “Am I doing the right thing to send my child back to school now?”

Back to school after COVID-19 Dr. Marisa van Niekerk Educational Psychologist Midstream Pretoria

Parents are wrestling with the decision to send their children back to school. This question triggers many emotions within parents. What complicates this question is that each family has a unique situation and circumstances.

Some facts to consider

Dr. Fiona Kritzinger, a paediatric pulmonologist (child lung specialist) from Cape Town says the following about going back to school:

  • Children don’t play such a significant role in passing on the COVID-19 virus to others.
  • It seems that less children are infected by COVID-19 than originally assumed.

Back to school after COVID-19 Dr. Marisa van Niekerk Educational Psychologist Midstream Pretoria

  • Children’s symptoms are very mild and in most cases unnoticed.
  • Italy’s COVID-19 death rate is 80 000 of which no one was a child.
  • Studies indicate that 80% of children who will get sick will have mild symptoms which won’t be more severe compared with other corona viruses like flu and influenza of past years.
  • Less than 5% of children will really get sick and need oxygen.
  • In South Africa between 500 – 600 children die of influenza every year. The risk for a child to be infected with COVID-19 is thus in context with previous year’s influenza rates.
  • What differs with COVID-19 is the number of people who might be infected as well as the heavy load that might be put on our health care systems.
  • Parents also fear the risk of other vulnerable family members. High risk ages are below one year and above 65 years of age.
  • Children are usually more affected by viral infections like the “normal” virus and upper airway infections. Therefore kids have circling anti-bodies, which help to prevent COVID-19.
  • The COVID-19 virus which binds to people’s cells, doesn’t bind well to children’s cells.

Back to school after COVID-19 Dr. Marisa van Niekerk Educational Psychologist Midstream Pretoria

Simple acts can make the most difference

Dr. Kritzinger, further highlights the effectiveness of:

  • Washing hands,
  • Not touching the face,
  • Wearing of masks (although pre-schoolers tend to constantly touch their masks as it seems to be uncomfortable, shift around, hurt their ears, and more).

These three basic personal hygiene steps would go a long way in protecting our children (and ourselves) when they go back to school.

Back to school after COVID-19 Dr. Marisa van Niekerk Educational Psychologist Midstream Pretoria

Dr. Kritzinger indicated that should all precautions be in place from both the home and the school’s side, children can go back to school.

In another article about going back to school after COVID-19, written by two epidemiologists*, of which one specialises in infectious diseases mentions the following facts:

  • Children are often assumed to be important conduits of infectious disease. This is true for influenza (or the common cold), but there is little evidence that children are important drivers of the COVID-19 spread.
  • Children can acquire the disease, but the symptoms are often mild or completely unnoticed.
  • Initial data from studies in China and Iceland show that children are not good transmitters of the virus.

Back to school after COVID-19 Dr. Marisa van Niekerk Educational Psychologist Midstream Pretoria

  • In detailed contact tracing from China, Korea and other countries, epidemiologists have encountered few instances in which children formed part of a transmission chain.
  • In places where schools remained open, such as Iceland, there is no evidence they were important places of transmission. One detailed investigation of an infected nine-year-old boy in France did not detect a single secondary case after he had contact with 112 peers and adults at three different schools during his symptomatic period.
  • The article clarifies that children are defined as elementary-school age and younger.
  • It is thought that teens and adolescents have similar transmission roles as adults.

 

Back to school after COVID-19 Dr. Marisa van Niekerk Educational Psychologist Midstream Pretoria

In a recent article published in Loving and Living** the author mentions that going back to school might be less uncomfortable for your child as it is may be for you. “Remember, your child trusts school as a safe space. They don’t have your anxieties about infections and risks – so don’t tell them anything that may lead to their worrying.”

Back to school after COVID-19, some practical tips

This article further highlights three practical things you as parent can do at home, to prepare your child for going back to school:

  • Talk to them about the changes that they can expect, for instance that the classroom might look different than before. Let them practice wearing a mask, and wash hands.
  • Your child might experience a certain amount of separation anxiety after spending so much time at home. Remind them about what the enjoyed at school, and the benefits of going to school, seeing friends again etc.
  • Most importantly, make your child feel safe. Remind them that some countries have already passed the most dangerous point in the pandemic, and that we as a country have a plan to fight the virus as well.
  • Remind the older kids that they would be playing an important role to help the smaller kids adapt to school again.

Back to school after COVID-19 Dr. Marisa van Niekerk Educational Psychologist Midstream Pretoria

 

You can download a free eBook about going back to school picture tips by clicking here.

For more information about educational psychology and child development, please connect with me on Facebook or Twitter.

 


References:

RSG Radiostasie and KykNET (May 2020)

* Parents are in two minds: Should I send my child back to school or not? National Post, Jay S. Kaufman and Joanna Merckx, April 22, 2020

** 3 things to do before your kids return to school, Published: May 29, Author Lisa Witepski, Loving and Living

Dealing with the covid-19 change Dr. Marisa van Niekerk Educational Psychologist Midstream Centurion Pretoria

Dealing with the Covid-19 change – corona virus

Dealing with the Covid-19 change – corona virus change

Dealing with the Covid-19 change has severely impacted and turned our lives upside down. Being upside down means that a lot of change has happened and are happening in your lives. Change usually bring with and forth a lot of uncertainties and insecurities in our worlds.

Dealing with the covid-19 change Dr. Marisa van Niekerk Educational Psychologist Midstream Centurion Pretoria
Change is constant – prepare for it!

 

 

We want to know what is “ok” and “normal” and it causes anxiety within us if we hear and see on social media and the television daily that there is no “normal” anymore. If you want any practical guidelines on how to set a new normal in this abnormal time of Covid-19, read my post here.

Dealing with the Covid-19 change however does not only mean negativity. Read more about change and what it implies in this post on “who moved my cheese” here.

For more information about Covid-19, and many other educational psychology topics, please visit my Facebook page. Or, if you are looking for some easy-and-fun arts and crafts activities for your children during the lockdown period, you can visit this post here.

 


Photo credits
Photo by Fusion Medical Animation on Unsplash
Photo by Bluehouse Skis on Unsplash
How can doing nothing be good for you? Dr. Marisa van Niekerk Educational Psychologist Midstream Pretoria

How can doing nothing be good for you?

How can doing nothing be good for you?

The corona virus or Covid-19 forces us to deal with change and to stand still. To rethink our values, priorities, the quality of our relationships and our dreams of the future. Who of us haven’t dreamed, before the corona virus, about time to sit still, to be free, ‘stand still’ and come to a halt, read a book, watch our favorite movie or television program, spend time with our family and friends maybe next to the pool while enjoying a nice braai. Maybe we have dreamed about having our own individual time, or having time without people around us as a family, time at the beach, time in nature, time to play with our children, relationship time with our spouses, and so our list can go on and one. But something which totally opposes our dreams of just having our own time, is confronting us during the period of the corona virus: Most of us don’t know how to switch off. Let’s examine the question: how can doing nothing be good for you?

How can doing nothing be good for you? Isn’t being active the same as winning?

Time is money – which is nothing new. Time is also limited and we don’t have time to waste. The social media, technology and ourselves tend to put a tremendous amount of pressure on ourselves to stay on top of new knowledge. Competition in the corporate world waits for no one only and the strongest, most informed ones will win! Or will they win?

Have a quick look at this two minute videoclip “How Boredom Helps You Do Your Best Thinking”, a TED Talk (technology, entertainment, design) by Zomorodi in 2017.

How can doing nothing be good for you? Boredom can create brilliance!

Boredom can truly create brilliance because when we are bored our thoughts start to wander off. Boredom activate a network in your brain which is called “default mode”. When we do things where we don’t need to think, for example walking the dog, do the washing, raking the garden and more, our body switches to autopilot. Autopilot doesn’t mean it switches off. This wandering off is our brain’s way to find something to stimulate it. These stimulation triggers our brains to start to think creatively  according to Sandi Mann, psychologist and writer of the book “The upside of downtime: Why boredom is good”.

How can doing nothing be good for you? Dr. Marisa van Niekerk Educational Psychologist Midstream Pretoria
How can doing nothing be good for you? Doing something peaceful like fishing can be an excellent opportunity for creative thinking!

When we daydream, we go deeper than just the here and now thinking of our conscious mind. Our brain starts to dig into a much deeper level which is called our sub-conscious minds. Our sub-conscious minds can be compared with files where all the highlights and lowlights of our lives are stored. Our sub-conscious mind connects stored parts of information with each another. These connections can’t take place when we are busy with our phones or social media. A prerequisite for creativity, self evaluation and planning for the brain is relaxing and day dreaming. Our subconscious minds help us to set new aims and find ways to reach these aims (Johnathan Smallwood, American psychologist; Andreas Elpidorou, researcher in philosophy University of Louisville.)

How can doing nothing be good for you? Do this and find out!

Put your cellphone down (where you can’t reach it), put the sound off as well. You owe yourself “creating of ideas time”. Our brains are not wired to be constantly busy. By having quiet, peaceful, day dreaming time, your subconscious mind will be ready to provide you with creative ideas, brilliant solutions and new exciting ways to discover yourself and to enjoy life with much more exciting plans. The secret of your success will be to add day dreaming time while doing nothing, to your every day schedule. Enjoy it!


What is a TED talk?

A TED talk is a video created from a presentation at the main TED (technology, entertainment, design) conference or one of its many satellite events around the world. TED talks are limited to a maximum length of 18 minutes and may be on any topic.

 

References:
Rooi Rose, Februarie 2020, ‘Broeikas vir Briljant’.
Photo credits:
Photo by Kristina Flour on Unsplash
Photo by Johannes Plenio on Unsplash
Dr. Marisa van Niekerk Educational Psychologist in Midstream Pretoria

Easy and fun activities for children during Covid-19 days: Dr. Marisa van Niekerk

Easy and fun activities for children during Covid-19 days

Easy and fun activities to keep your children busy during cold days as well as during Covid-19 days

One of the most frequently asked questions by mom’s over the years is “What else can I do to keep my children busy on cold and rainy days?”. Nowadays this has become “I’m running out of ideas of what to play”. Or “What creative activities are left, as the lockdown already lasted for 21 days and there are two more weeks to come?”. “My children are so bored now.”

Dr. Marisa van Niekerk Educational Psychologist in Midstream Pretoria
Sorting shapes and colours – playing and learning at the same time

But let’s take a step back, why is play important, and what are the benefits of playing?

What does play really mean?

Let’s just pause for a moment to think why children need to play. Playing is not just keeping your child busy to have peace for hopefully a few minutes (if you are lucky!). A child’s play is an art and science on it’s own. Hymes describes play as ”….. thinking time for young children. It is language time. Problemsolving time. It is memory time, planning time, investigating time. It is organization-of-ideas time when the young child uses his mind and body and his social skills and all his powers in response to the stimulus he has met.”

What do parents give their children through play – the benefits of playing?

  • Physical, body development
    Building with blocks – another great play learning activity
    • Examples: Catching and throwing a ball, running around, climb, building things like houses, cars, robots, etc. (construction play).
  • Brain development (cognitive development)
    • Examples: Gaining knowledge about the meaning of big/small, loud/soft, up/down; sorting of things according to colour, shape, size and learn to solve problems.
  • Emotional development
    • Examples: Learn to express his emotions, develops self confidence, helps to better deal with conflict.
  • Social development
    • Examples: Learns to work together with peers, to respect others, it helps to form his identity and teaches a child about leading and following.

Playing improves concentration

Play improves concentration in children. All the above mentioned areas of development forms the foundation for spelling, reading and mathematics. Please read this again, play is the basis for reading, spelling and maths. For the mom’s who need to keep all the balls in the air (house keeping: cleaning, preparing food, washing, ironing as well as keeping the children busy with activities and play and who are forced to stay within a limited budget) I salute you!

For the mom’s who ‘don’t have time to play’, I hope that you will realise what difference you can make in your child’s development by creating play activities.

Visit my Facebook page for examples of easy and fun activities for children during Covid-19 days

If you are looking for creative easy and fun activities for children during Covid-19 days, look no further. I have put a lot of easy, fun activities on my Facebook page. Pictures are added which make it easy for you to scroll through and to get new ideas. It will also trigger your brain to create new ideas. Have fun!

 

Photo credits:

Thank you to the following authors for the amazing pictures used in this blog.
Building blocks – Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash
Sorting shapes and colours – Photo by Soraya Irving on Unsplash
Child playing with cars – Photo by Sandy Millar on Unsplash
The world is temporarily closed COVID-19, coronavirus

Regain control of your life during COVID-19 lockdown

Need to regain control of your life during COVID-19 lockdown?

How to regain structure in a world struck by the Corona virus?

The Corona virus came unexpectedly and with force. It turned our instant and fast lives upside down. When we opened your eyes the next morning it was still there, it became our new reality, a very unwelcome reality. Let’s explore how to regain control of your life during this time?

The corona virus overwhelms our lives. Worst of all, we start to realize that the Corona virus or Covid-19 virus will stay with us for a while, unless a cure or vaccine is found. The corona virus took over all parts of our being, especially since the introduction of the lockdown period in South Africa, and many parts of the world.

Regain control of your life during COVID-19 lockdown
Regain control of your life during COVID-19 lockdown

It is impacting us socially (we can’t go out and spend time with others), emotionally (we feel down, depressed , anxious, angry, etc.), physically (we can’t go for a walk, jog and gyms don’t count as an essential service (!)), and mentally (our thoughts keep on coming back to the corona virus).

What I hear as educational psychologist from clients, the media and from experiences in my own life every day, the Corona virus evokes emotions like anxiety, anger, fear, sadness, loss of control, depression and many more. People want to know why they feel so knocked off their feet all the time. They want to know what’s wrong with them or whether they are loosing their minds.

No, you haven’t lost your mind

Corona caused tremendous losses in our lifes which implies aspects like routine, space, jobs, income, freedom, social life and control. The moment when we loose something, we experience a loss. During any loss we’ll move back and forth between the following phases:

  • Denial
  • Anger
  • Negotiation
  • Acceptance.

It is quite natural to experience the phases of loss mentioned above, and people spend different amounts of time in each of these phases. Don’t worry too much if you spend too much time in a phase, however, if you are really stuck in one of these phases, and it is interfering too much with your life, do contact me for a consultation.

Regain control of your life during COVID-19 lockdown: What to do

What can I do to make Covid-19 better?

Questions which arises are “What can I do to make Covid-19 better?” or “How can I regain control in my life?” Research tells us when dealing with a loss and trauma, structure plays an important part in regaining a sense of control in your lives. The most important aspect is to get a routine, similar to the one before Covid-19 existed, for instance:

  • Get up at the same time each morning.
  • Don’t get up too late (this means that you should also go to bed on a decent time the night before).
  • Exercise (in your house if you can’t go outside). Any form of exercise can work, and no excuse is accepted. Walking inside your house, or garden counts; skip, jump on one leg, put on a happy song and dance for a few minutes.
  • Take a shower.
  • Put on your clothes, make-up, comb your hair – look in the mirror and see a well taken care of picture of yourself.
  • Do what you normally do during the week, for example working, keeping your kids busy, etcetera.
  • Take a break and have coffee / tea outside, together with your family members – if they are there (sunshine provides vitamin D which adds to your positive feelings).
  • Go back to work and remember to take regular breaks. Put on a happy song during your second break to lift up your feelings.
  • Go for a walk after work.
  • Read / do something that you never have time for (make a list and tick them off every day).
  • Spend time with your family, or on your own if you are alone, make a nice fire, play a board game, spend time on your hobby or do something new or something that you like).
  • Prepare and enjoy some good, healthy food.
  • Drink enough water.
  • Clean up your kitchen and house.
  • Get enough sleep.
  • Have time apart from the television and internet, as it might easily become all that you do most of the time.
  • Be brave: this implies spending time on your own and “face” your fear, anger, anxiety, frustration, etcetera.
  • CONTROL what you can, which are all indicated above.
Regain control of your life during COVID-19 lockdown
Regain control of your life during COVID-19 lockdown

Regain control of your life during COVID-19 lockdown: Structure equals routine

If you want to regain control of your life, you need routine. Routine, even if you aren’t a very routine person, brings structure into our lives when it seems to be falling apart. The moment when you realise that there are things that you can control and start doing them, you will discover that routine provides you with a sense of security. Control and security cause our brains to release “feeling good hormones” of which endorphin is one. The challenge is however to stick to a routine.

Isn’t it time to take up the challenge of setting a proper routine and to regain a sense of structure in your life?


For more relevant information, please connect with me on my Facebook page.

Talking to kids about the Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Talking to kids about the Coronavirus (COVID-19)

The Coronavirus (COVID-19) is causing widespread panic and anxiety throughout the world. For us as adults, information about the virus is quite readily available, but what about our children? What do they hear, and understand about the Coronavirus?

Talking to kids about the Coronavirus

Below are a few pictures that can help you explain the Coronavirus (COVID-19) to your children, to help ease their anxiety, and empower them with knowledge about what the virus is, what is does, and how the spread of the virus can be contained.

You can also download this free PDF copy of the story here.Explaining the Coronavirus to kids

Explaining the Coronavirus to kids

Explaining the Coronavirus to kids

 

Explaining the Coronavirus to kids

 

Explaining the Coronavirus to kids

Explaining the Coronavirus to kids

 

Explaining the Coronavirus to kids

Explaining the Coronavirus to kids

Explaining the Coronavirus to kids

Explaining the Coronavirus to kids

 

The above images are credited with thanks to MANUELA MOLINA, @MINDHEART.KIDS, WWW.MINDHEART.CO.

 

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Back to school after COVID-19 Dr. Marisa van Niekerk Educational Psychologist Midstream Pretoria

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