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COVID-19: Tips for Secondary School Families

Here are some tips for talking with your teen about COVID-19:

  • Speak calmly. Your calmness will help your teen be calm. Find out what your teen knows about what is going on.
  • Tell your teen the truth. You may choose to leave out unnecessary information that may increase your teen’s anxiety. Let your teen know you will always try to answer questions. You can find facts about COVID-19 at the Centers For Disease Control's website at: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/downloads/2019-ncov-factsheet.pdf.
  • Acknowledge your teen's feelings. Some teens may be afraid or worried. Some may be disappointed about missing cancelled activities. Listen carefully. Let your teen know that it is OK to feel that way. If your teen doesn't want to talk about the situation, don't force it.
  • Reassure your teen. Say that you will cope with this together.
  • Help your teen feel a sense of control. Explain that by following instructions, like washing hands thoroughly, your family is taking action to keep yourselves and others safe. Involve your teen in other decisions about how to move forward, such as setting up daily routines.

To relieve stress and fear:

  • Share positive information, such as the increasing numbers of people who are recovering from the virus.
  • Help your teen maintain realistic expectations. Conditions are changing rapidly. The timelines for academic milestones may have to change, too.
  • Encourage your teen to make time for things that matter to him.
  • Start each day with pleasant words.
  • Create routines. A daily routine for waking, eating, learning, playing and sleeping will help your teen maintain a sense of order and continue to learn.
  • Find ways to exercise. Physical activity is a great stress reliever, and it is a great way to spend time together as a family. Your teen is more likely to exercise if you do it too. You can: have contests—sit ups, push ups, who can maintain a plank position the longest; work out to an exercise video; walk 10 times up and down the stairs; put on favorite music and dance; even do some spring cleaning together.
  • Encourage your teen to connect with friends in safe ways—by text, or an old-fashioned phone call.

To support and promote learning at home:

  • Have your teen establish a study area and a daily time for learning.
  • Encourage your teen to set learning goals.
  • Suggest that your teen keep a journal of the events of this time and her thoughts about them.
  • Ask your teen open-ended questions that promote thinking: What would be the downside to being famous? If you could start your own charity, what would it do?
  • Have your teen teach you something you don't know. Ask him to explain a biology concept he's learned recently, or to show you how to solve a tricky math problem.
  • Establish a daily family reading time.
  • Have your teen tackle a long-term project. It's great to be able to start something just because it's interesting when there's no time pressure.
  • Suggest that your teen reread this year's class notes.
  • Have your teen work some math problems every day.
  • Allow your teen some time for daydreaming. Imagining different situations and how they might handle them makes it easier for teens to face challenges.

To help your student learn independently from textbooks, share a four-step method:

  1. Explore. Before your teen starts to read the textbook, have her read the introduction to the chapter. Then have her look through the chapter headings, subheadings, summary and review questions. How does this subject connect to things she has already studied?
  2. Examine. Your teen should look over pictures, tables and diagrams. They are often easier to understand than the words. What new information can she learn? Why are those graphics included?
  3. Read. Have your teen read the chapter. At the end of each section, she should stop to see if she can explain what she's just read in her own words. Have her take notes about important information, concepts and vocabulary.
  4. Analyze. Your teen should look carefully at the problems in the textbook. Have her write an explanation and draw a diagram to explain the various steps used to solve the problem.

To promote self-sufficiency and help your teen build important life skills:

  • Give your teen responsibilities at home.
  • Do not do for your teen what you know he can do for himself.
  • Emphasize the connection between choices and results. Before your teen acts, encourage him to think about what could happen as a result of his decisions.
  • Applaud your teen when he makes a good decision. When he doesn't, ask what he learned.
  • Don't solve your teen's problems. Instead, be a sounding board. Ask what options he thinks he has. Continue to ask questions that help him think through the solutions for himself.
 
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