The entire world has come to a standstill in the wake of COVID-19 but in the midst of this, we forget how the little things are being taken away from learners in school, particularly the matric class of 2020. Outside of school results and missed lessons, school-goers across the country are feeling the pressure of this virus in various different ways. It’s easy to brush these things aside as small and insignificant consequences of a virus that is having much more serious impacts across the country, however, we need to really remind ourselves of how we felt when we were in grade 12. Remember how it felt as though your entire life had led to this important year – it’s everything you’ve prepared for after all. 

Instead of pretending to understand how they feel, we’ve interviewed one of the learners in the matric class of 2020. In this, we can remind ourselves of what it felt like to wait in anticipation of your grade 12 year and only then can we begin to understand what it might feel like to have those dreams taken away. 

Matthew Temlett from Reddam House Umhlanga explains how the year differed from what he had anticipated. He also explains the strange new routines he has had to pick up in his school environment and the influence that this year has had on him from a social perspective. 

Issues that the class of 2020 are facing today

According to an article by psychology today, school routines enable learners in school to cope with the pressures and disappointments of life. Having a consistent school routine enables learners to have control over an aspect of their lives regardless of what is going on in their home environment or other areas of their lives. 

School learners are expected to stay healthy in order to be able to write their exams. This means that there is an added pressure to not get sick over this period of time especially for learners in the class of 2020. There’s no back-up plan for these students who are already concerned that they have not covered all of the content they needed to know for grade 12 and who are relying on these results to move into their chosen tertiary institutions in 2021. 

Aside from all of this, the biggest concern among parents and professionals is that there is no way we can understand the impacts that this might have on adolescents in the long term. In order to overcome this, parents need to have important conversations with their children and have a hands-on approach to dealing with the thoughts in the back of children’s minds. So how can you practically help your child deal with all of these changes?

Practically helping your teen navigate their way through 2020

Talking to your teen and giving them space

It’s really important to balance talking to your teen with giving them some personal space. It can be helpful to give your child some space while they try to work through some concerns they may have but balance this with some conversations around how they may be feeling. This will give your child the opportunity to talk to you if they have something on their mind that is bothering them. 

Monitoring media intake

There is a lot of negative media around the virus and schooling that may be upsetting your child during this season. Learners in the matric class of 2020 may be feeling pressure purely because of information they are reading and seeing online. Try to monitor the media your child is exposed through by having a conversation with them about it. It can also be helpful to limit the amount of screen time your child is getting. 

Take time to NOT talk about COVID-19

With all the media around COVID-19, it can be helpful for families to pick a timeframe during the day where you talk about everything but the virus that seems to have made its way into our conversations as well! Set aside your family time and have different conversations to keep more balanced thoughts inside everyone’s minds.

Forming healthy routines

Earlier we mentioned how kids often rely on the routine of school to get them through tough seasons and help them deal with their emotions. Having their routine wiped away from them has caused quite a shift in their world so it can be helpful for parents to play a role in putting new structures in place to assist in forming new routines. 

Remember that we’re all going through this together and we can learn from each other. If you have any helpful advice for parents, let us know by sending us a message or commenting on our Facebook or Instagram account. We’d love to hear how you are managing this season with your family. 

This article was originally published on 09 Sep 2020

About the author
Mekayla Preiss

I am a Copywriter and Content Creator for I enjoy getting creative and have a passion for people and crafting compelling content, I hope to inspire the next generation of learners and changemakers.

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