Get kids back to normal routine, expert says as long break ends

Experts say it is important for parents to get their children back to their normal routines even now.

PETALING JAYA: A consultant paediatrician has advised parents to start getting their children back to their regular school routines following yesterday’s announcement that classes will resume from July 15 after a four-month break due to the movement control order imposed in March.

Dr Zulkifli Ismail, a former president of the Malaysian Paediatric Association, said children were “conditioned” to “wake up early, get ready, have breakfast and go to school five days a week”.

“When this conditioning response is broken, they get used to a new schedule that does not involve strict discipline,” he told FMT.

He said parents could get their children back to their regular school routines even now by reminding them that classes would start soon, and that they would be able to see their friends again.

Consultant paediatrician Dr Zulkifli Ismail.

Zulkifli, who served as head of the paediatrics department at Hospital Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, said this was especially important for children who might have lost the desire to go to school during the long break.

He said rapport with their parents through activities such as consistently doing their schoolwork at home would help reacquaint them with their regular school routine.

Education Minister Radzi Jidin announced yesterday that schools nationwide would reopen beginning July 15, with primary students from Year One to Four to resume classes a week later on July 22.

Classroom sessions have already resumed for Form Five and Six students, who returned to school on June 24. Preschool and kindergarten children meanwhile went back to school yesterday as part of the education ministry’s gradual resumption of classes based on SOPs implemented by the health authorities.

Psychiatrist Dr Ahmad Rostam Md Zin told FMT that parents should refrain from putting too much pressure on their children to return to school.

He said the Covid-19 pandemic had led to an increase in mental health issues in children such as anxiety, and that providing a calm and supportive environment for them would help ease them back into their regular school routines.

“We need to pre-empt them, not pressure them,” he said. “School is something that is fun and normal for them.”

After that, he said, parents could educate their children about safety.

Among the SOPs to be introduced in schools is a one-metre gap between desks, with surplus students placed in other classrooms.

Students will also have their temperatures taken before they enter the school compound, and take their recess in turns to prevent overcrowding at canteens.

Fake or not? Check our quick fake news buster here.