Organizing Bal Sabha (student meetings), conduct surveys for parents, educating children about good and bad touch – these are some of the many suggestions given by the Ministry of Education for parents and caregivers to continue learning from home. The “guidelines for parents participation in home-based learning” include why, what, and how to participate and engage in supporting children during school closure. It emphasizes art as a therapy for children, parent partnership, and supporting parents with low literacy levels and children with special needs.
Schools have been shut since mid-March and amid fear of the third wave which is said to be crucial for kids, the schools will take a while before they reopen. The guidelines cover age-appropriate suggestions for students in different age-group and how to benefit them as learning continues from home.
While releasing the guidelines, Education Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank said, “I strongly feel that a home is the first school, and parents are the first teachers. In this pandemic, the role of parents’ is pivotal in the growth and learning of children.”
“Apart from being a serious medical concern, the pandemic is also causing psycho-social challenges among children of all age groups as they experience a heightened level of stress, anxiety, and fearfulness, along with a range of other emotional and behavioral issues,” stated the guidelines which also added that “reports have suggested that in the last year there has been an increase in the number of cases reported of sexual abuse and violence against children”. It suggested parents to talk to their children about “safe and unsafe touch, set boundaries for children, apprise children of the risks of talking to strangers and not going out alone.”
“As a parent or caregiver, you can support children’s learning even if you are not a trained teacher or have basic literacy skills. . Remind your child that they are still a school student, even if the school is closed. For a few minutes every day, starting with 20-30 minutes, sit with your child and discuss what they were learning in school,” the ministry said through the official document.
For schools, the document suggested holding bal sabha “since gatherings cannot take place due to the pandemic, online BAL Sabha may be arranged where all may hear children’s contributions in reciting poems, stories, views, etc. Schools can prepare questionnaires for parents of students in every grade,to get feedback on issues related to children learning and well-being. The information so provided would be useful for both stakeholders to understand the unique attributes of each child, its aptitude, attitude, temperament, interests, habits, and hobbies. Parent surveys should primarily focus on children learning and access to learning resources etc.”
Resources have been made available for Children with special needs which may be explored by the parents. They can approach teachers for guidance in this regard. There are other agencies, and organizations that provide facilitates Information about such avenues that could be sought from SMCs/Gram Panchayat, school administrators etc. A separate chapter has been included in the Guidelines for supporting parents with low/no literacy. Schools, teachers, and volunteers may take the suggestive steps to provide support to low-literacy parents, claims the ministry in its official statement.