Trying to do the best we can for the welfare of our children

Veronica Gomes

KG/ES Counselor / #1 Letter to SEISEN Families / School Closure

Weekly letter: 4th March 2020
Online Learning Week #1
by Veronica Gomes

Dear SEISEN Elementary School families,

It is human nature that in a crisis situation we are all in problem-solving mode and focusing on ‘doing’ something.  Whether it is making plans to keep your family safe or considering contingency travel arrangements, we are all trying to do the best we can for the welfare of our children.

At this time, we would like to encourage our community to take the time to practice self-care.  We might find this to be a highly stressful and challenging period.  We can help manage our anxiety by acknowledging and discussing our feelings about this situation with loved ones or with myself as the KG/ Elementary counselor who is trained and equipped to deal with stressful situations like this.

Talk to your children about what is going on.  As adults we should keep ourselves updated on the coronavirus outbreak, known as Covid-19, from reliable sources, however, young children and pre-teens may not be able to filter useful information for our Japanese context or differentiate between reliable or inaccurate sources putting out fake news. If your child is getting the bulk of their information from social media platforms, these are well known for unchecked opinions
which cause panic and in turn, can cause anxiety.

As such, it is important for parents to talk to their children using age-appropriate language about the virus because understanding the infection will reduce their anxiety.  Children will pick up on adults’ worries and may ask questions for which we do not have answers. It is OK for adults to say, “I don’t know, but doctors and researchers from all over the world are trying to find the answers.”  It is okay to tell your child that they are safe, and to teach and remind them to follow the published guidelines
for staying healthy.

Sadly, the Coronavirus has and is causing fatalities internationally.  When children hear reference to death, whether it be through watching TV news or hearing adults discuss it, they can become worried and anxious.  Consider the age of your child, and their preparedness to understand and cope with troubling news articles exposing them to discussions and reports via devices in your home.

I’ve included a link with a variety of Apps both on iOS and Android that you can download to assist your children with coping with anxiety and to further their well-being, Relaxation Apps for Young Children

Again, depending on the age of your child, they may not have access to prior knowledge that will help them understand why school is closed and why they are learning at home.  For example, a young child may not know what a virus is, and how it spreads. You may discover that you will need to build age-appropriate knowledge to increase understanding and reduce anxiety.

And finally, I’d like to share with you the perspective of a father from Hong Kong where, as I am sure you are aware, schools have been closed since January 2020.  He writes that online classes provided his girls with structure and routine at home and so to this end he ensured that his girls got up at the usual time, dressed, made their beds and ate breakfast before they sat down to do their school work.

His advice to other parents facing the same situation is to take advantage of it.  He says he is using the extra time to teach his kids more responsibility for their home and chores and to do more exercise. “At the same time it’s also a good opportunity for us to catch up with family relations,” he says.  “We have nowhere to go, even on the weekend. We do board games, and card games, that’s something we can take this chance to do.”

If you need any advice or help please know that I am standing by, ready to provide any social-emotional support our community needs. You can find my contact information at the bottom of this letter.

Yours sincerely,
Veronica Gomes
Seisen International SchoolKG/ ES Counseling



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