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Preschool parents’ Coffee Chat with the Counselor

Ahliah School counselor, Ms. Sandra Ziadeh, and Head of Preschool Division, Ms. Elissar Jalloul, organized an afternoon Coffee Chat with preschool parents and/or guardians, to provide them with support through a general interactive discussion, on February 17, 2021.

During the gathering, parents discussed many issues, one of them being that online learning is becoming repetitive and boring for their preschool children. Ms. Elissar assured them that the school is doing everything it can to keep classes and activities interactive, to make sure students are engaged and have activities besides learning during school time. Parents then voiced concerns about their children finding it difficult to stay seated for the duration of a class. Ms. Sandra and Ms. Elissar suggested having them move around during class, i.e. to get a glass of water or to stretch. “In some cases, if the child is too irritated, it is okay to stop attending classes for the day, and instead do some physical or educational activities. Teachers are very understanding, and a simple email or message to let them know what is going on will be enough”, stated Ms. Sandra.

A parent was worried that while children are at home, parents are teaching them what they know and how they know it. Their main concern was that their children will find it difficult to understand the teacher’s way of explaining the material once they go back to school. Ms. Sandra and Ms. Elissar assured them that children learn in different ways, and the teachers also take this into consideration when coming up with lesson plans and activities.

Throughout the discussion, several parents agreed that being home with their children all the time is causing the children to lose a sense of personal and physical boundaries that are usually present with in-person learning. Parents discussed how their children are following them around the house all the time, and not allowing them any private moments. Ms. Sandra suggested the following tips for setting boundaries for children:

  • Have one parent take over while the other takes a break.
  • Explain to children that they will be okay if they are alone for a few minutes.
  • Distract children with games or movies while parents do the work they need to do.
  • Identify a space in the house where children can study and play.
  • Explain to children that sometimes parents need to have a private moment to themselves.

Then, a parent raised the issue on how exceptions becoming the new “normal”, that sometimes making an exception for a child, s/he might use it as an excuse when told “no” a second time. For example, when children we given the permission to eat once during class, they used “but you let me last time” as their excuse afterwards. Ms. Sandra and Ms. Elissar advised parents to explain that the one time happening is exceptional, and that it will not happen again unless it is absolutely necessary. They stressed the need to communicate rules and consequences to the child.

Ms. Sandra then shared general tips with the parents.

  • When children feel overwhelmed, it’s okay to take a break. Even if the parents are overwhelmed; it is important to take breaks to recharge everyone’s energy to be able to have a fresh start.
  • Since the kids are not going out, it is a good to try different activities with them (indoor games, baking/cooking, learning music or dancing). It is also important that children get the physical exercise they usually get by riding their bicycles or scooters in the lobby or parking lot.
  • To make sure that we cater to children’s social needs, it is important to keep them connected with their friends and classmates. They can have voice or video calls with their friends in the afternoon to connect, talk, and play.

Following the discussion, PE teacher, Ms. Faten, joined the gathering for a 10-minute physical exercise with the parents and their children.

The parents continuously thanked the team for holding such a gathering, allowing them to ask questions and express their concerns, whether their own or their children’s. They were excited to be a part of this activity, knowing that they will be able to interact with each other and the school. Several parents were able to give tips to one another, and many felt supported, that they were not struggling alone.