Navigating Covid, School and Schedules


A new year has begun with hopes and expectations and more Covid restrictions. What a concrete reminder that the Covid-related unpredictability of 2020 continues into 2021. Many of our children celebrate the extended holiday but others are agitated that school and friends are still not accessible. As parents try to navigate childcare, job-seeking or meeting work requirements, with increased economic stress, this can all feel overwhelming!   

Navigating Covid and school is different for every family, depending on your circumstances. For families where education and schooling are facilitated through classroom interactions, we face the challenge of needing to set up structure and boundaries so that our children can continue to learn while being safe. For families where schools are alternating or exclusively using online systems, considerations need to be made regarding data and device accessibility. If we are in a better resourced space, how do we support and recognize that our children, by default, get given a head start whilst at the same time hold the tension of what it means for other children whose teachers are needing to navigate 50 or more learners in a grade, amid the Covid disruptions?  The space of wanting to see our own child thrive and grow as well as my neighbour’s child means that an increased understanding of the challenges facing us all can lead us to action. And through all of this we need to recognize as parents and caregivers that while we can’t predict what will happen next, we can create stability and structure for our children, no matter the circumstances. 

But just how do we begin to put stability and structure in place when everything feels so off kilter?  First things first, let’s start in our own homes.  Make sure that we are implementing appropriate Covid protocols and making sure that sanitizing, washing hands and masking up  become part of our daily routines.  Regardless of whether we are in classrooms or buying bread, these routines matter and help our children know what to expect when do they do eventually return to the classroom.  Routines provide a set of expectations and diminish anxiety. 

Children learn through play, but need healthy boundaries and to know what is expected in order to thrive.  And when we provide routines for our children, it benefits them but it also helps us plan our days.  Additionally, routines which include free, unstructured play matter – it’s in this time that our children decompress, process their anxiety and can regulate, or manage their emotions – like we do in our own down time!

Routines don’t need to be complicated, but they do need to be age appropriate. An example of a daily schedule aimed at preschoolers is given below.  This schedule provides time for fine motor skills (using our hands to pinch, draw or write), gross motor skills (movement that does not involve sitting), literacy (reading) and numeracy (math).  This can be adapted for older children, as needed, and allows you to craft a routine that will work for your family.  Think about setting up a routine or schedule to your day at home, what are the regular rhythms or needs of your family?  When will you do school-work, or play, or go outside?  When is snack time, or nap time or screen time?

It is easy to feel at the whim of Covid and the limits it imposes on us. Covid continues to reveal the inequalities within our cities and communities. It also provides an opportunity for us to advocate for children, not just our own, and support them to grow in the midst of the messiness.  It provides opportunities to learn more and empathize with the different challenges facing families in our world. What does this practically look like for the children in your immediate world?  Is there a way to partner with the caregivers of families around you to see ALL children thrive?  Perhaps this is the the housekeeper or janitor in your office, the domestic worker or gardener in your home. What would partnering with them look like to support their children?  It might be assisting with the uniform or stationary outlay for the year, or if their children are younger, offering basic fine motor activities which they can facilitate in their homes too. 

Sharing ideas and schedules as well as asking about practical needs are just some of the ways we can choose proactive responses to hold our children, to support each other and respond to the needs in the world around us. We can grow in relationships with compassion and dignity as we listen, learn and grow together in response to Covid and schools and the responses we choose.  Perhaps this is the silver lining in the current topsy turvy world.

Written by the Arise Team. Arise is an NGO based in Heideveld on the Cape Flats. We believe that every child is created to be part of a loving, secure, thriving family. To support us in our work, visit http://www.arisefamily.org/donate.

Passing the Mic for World Adoption Month


November is World Adoption Month.  It’s the month where adoptee voices are centred.  It’s the month where the layers of adoption are peeled back and we have an opportunity to listen, lean in and look at adoption through the lens of adoptees.

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Celebrating in the Time of a Pandemic


It’s October 2020 and there are two months to go until the end of the year and what a year it has been. October is Arise’s birthday month and we celebrate 12 years as an NGO. Twelve years of seeking justice for children, to see them thriving in their families, advocating fiercely to see children in permanent families who are equipped to see the fullness of their children through adoption; and training tirelessly to see other professionals and organisations equipped to understand the importance of thriving families in order to see stronger communities.

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To the Strong Women We Serve


At Arise we celebrate women’s month by honouring the strong, courageous and fierce women that we serve in our communities. Through our various programmes we have seen heroic women who carry the burdens of society, and their families, on their shoulders; yet they show their strengths by making sacrifices, by their determination to improve their livelihoods and by advocating for their children. These women often go unseen, unheard and are forgotten because of their circumstances.

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Openhearted Adoption in South Africa: “Complicated, Beautiful and Messy”


Openness in Adoption is often thought to reference the nature of contact between adoptees and their biological families but it is about more than just this. Openness references the attitude and way in which families engage with all aspects of adoption: how we talk about adoption, to our children as well as outside of our home; how we engage with the fullness of who our children are – their race, roots and traits which may well reflect their biological families such as a particular interest or aptitude – and how we create space to engage with this. 

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Race: Talking to Your Children


Global headlines are currently dominated by race – the death of George Floyd but also the death of Collins Khosa and ten others who died during the initial months of South Africa’s lockdown have all led to a greater awareness of racial injustice. Conversations seem to finally be happening, and they need to continue to happen. These conversations are ones that happen often around Arise’s conference table, and if you have ever attended an Arise workshop addressing Race, Identity and Transracial Adoption, the following should be familiar:

Raising children in a race conscious world requires conscious thought and deliberate action on the part of parents.

Children, COVID-19 and Consequences – A Reflection in Child Protection Month


We have all been impacted by this pandemic. For some of us it is the burden of working from home while managing crisis schooling, for others it is the worry over lost income and businesses we’ve built up over years. Our frontline families face uncertainty and anxiety as they wait for the approaching wave of patients while for others it is their very physical health that is at stake. We are all in a storm, paddling furiously to keep our heads above the water. We acknowledge this but we know too that we are not all in the same boat.  Our work at Arise as well as continuous ground level research shows us that this pandemic is set to have long-term consequences particularly for the children in our marginalised communities.

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Finding the Opportunity in the COVID-19 Crisis


The COVID-19 crisis has done what all crises do – it’s stripped away many of the masks or veils that existed in day-to-day spaces.  It has magnified the strengths, opportunities and challenges that exist within our personal spaces, as well as in our communities – regardless of whether our community is well-resourced or struggling in this time. The Chinese word for crisis is often cited in motivational speaking: it’s made up of two characters, Wei which means danger and Ji which means opportunity. Both are playing out in this pandemic.    

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How to Breathe Out While in Lockdown


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We often remind each other to breathe in during times of stress and anxiety. What we forget to check is whether we are breathing out as well.  Breathing out is important. Without releasing our breath, we can’t take in fresh air, we can’t move, and our bodies remain stressed and anxious, making It harder to think creatively or solve problems. When we are managing laundry, deadlines, children, meal plans and mess, we can lose touch and forget to breathe out!  This has never been truer than in our current state of lockdown.

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