Place strategy

All children should know that school is a safe place, even in times of crisis

At the schools the Smith family partners with, I have seen great examples of how principals and their teams reassure students.

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A school sets aside time at the start of each day to talk with its students, check in on how they are feeling, and ask them what they need to feel safe and comfortable.

They are also engaging students in creating innovative ways to respond to the impacts of COVID and creating courses focused on mental health and wellness. This provides a positive message that students are seen, heard and respected.

We know from our work with families and schools that in times of uncertainty it is essential to focus on maintaining student attendance, routine and structure.

Getting ready for school every day, getting ready for class and preparing a packed lunch are all routines. While that might not seem like a lot, it’s those little things that comfort kids during times of high stress.

For educators around the world, COVID has presented many complicated issues. I think anyone who has experienced homeschooling has even more respect for the work of teachers.

Even as a qualified and experienced teacher, homeschooling is a challenge. Keeping children safe, engaged and motivated in their learning during a pandemic is no small feat for an educator, but after working with so many fantastic schools in the WA education sector, I know that Principals and teachers are deeply committed to providing support to every student.

I also know that they will continue to work hard to make sure everyone feels safe at school.

The weeks and even years ahead will continue to present challenges for our younger generations, especially disadvantaged children.

We would do well to turn to the evidence to find strategies that work, to help kids stay connected and engaged in school.

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And a united education sector, governments, businesses, community organizations and charities working together to provide children with resources and supports, as well as effective long-term solutions, will be essential.

I think we can all agree on one thing: we must not let this crisis have a prolonged negative impact on our children – and seeing every child thrive in their education will be key to mitigating that.

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