A group of parents have banded together to connect, share and exchange ideas online on how to juggle working from home, being full-time parents and educators to their children, as well as managing household responsibilities, during the Covid-19 pandemic and movement control order (MCO).
What started out as a social media community on Facebook earlier this year, eventually grew and evolved into an online community platform called SmarterStrongerTogether in March.
The unique thing about this initiative is that it was started by parents, for parents and, though facilitated by Garden International School (GIS), is open to all parents across the country.
It functions as a free resource for tips and tricks, new ideas for fun and engaging activities especially during the MCO, and a support structure.
“We are all going through similar challenges and we all understand how being confined to your home 24/7 can get frustrating. And it always helps to band together to offer each other support and a positive word, ” a parent said.
All content on SmarterStrongerTogether is free and updated daily, featuring topics such as music, games, arts and craft, as well as recipes, learning resources and topical articles.
Over 500 parents provide all this content, and it is specially curated for current times, so most of the activities can be done from the comfort of home.
Some interesting stuff available on the portal include ‘Communication is key’ (how to talk to your kids, from toddlers to adolescents, about the pandemic and MCO); ‘Draw on great ideas’ (how to plan a balance of education, entertainment and breaks to create a sense of routine for your children), and ‘Remember you are not alone’ (tackling any isolation or frustration parents and children may feel from being cooped up at home).
GIS principle Robert Stitch said: “Having a strong supportive community in learning, is important and beneficial, especially in times of crises.”
“Parents needed new streams of ideas and resources to create engaging activities and content for their children at home. They also needed to band together to support one another in times of isolation like this, and to broaden their daily ‘at home’ routine, ” he said.
As a parent himself (of two grown children), Stitch says that it is important for parents to self-reflect and stay positive while coping during this challenging period.
“Cultivating gratitude and a positive attitude is important because our state of mind will effect our interactions with our children, even more so when we are all at home 24/7. Our attitude and how we see this pandemic and the MCO will influence our children’s well-being and emotional state, ” he said.
“Children flourish when they are in a happy, safe and supported environment, ” he added.
“Parents, remember that you’re not alone and if you’re feeling overwhelmed or isolated, please reach out for support from your immediate communities. Receiving and offering emotional support during shared difficult times can have a positive impact on our well-being. While being kind to others, it’s also important to remember to be kind to ourselves, ” he said.
If you are a parent and want new ideas, check out: www.smarterstrongertogether.my
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