Ākonga may have a range of reactions to changes throughout the pandemic, from thoughts, feelings, behaviours to physical symptoms.
Build rapport, take time for whakawhanaungatanga
Most ākonga can adapt to changes and be excited about changes to their learning whether this is back to school or learning from home or a mix of both (often called hybrid learning). Ākonga adjust to changes when routines are consistent and support is provided by kaiako and whānau. A small number of ākonga though, may need extra support and guidance. If you notice reactions or changes in behaviours that have not settled over time and are out of character, talk with their whānau about it, to problem solve and support.
As you are just one kaiako, you might not have all the answers you need, but working collectively with others can help. Work with whānau, kaiako, other school staff, iwi, social and health agencies, and other services in your community.
Whakawhanaungatanga – take the time to connect, and listen to ensure genuine and authentic engagement, to build rapport with your whānau. Promote calm, take time to notice, engage and listen in the busyness of each day.
From your connections to whānau during times of lockdowns and home isolation were there any concerns raised that you need to be aware of?
Below are some suggestions to help you prepare before talking to whānau.
What is important to whānau right now?
- Consider the conversations you had with whānau. What did you learn that may be useful now?
- Do you know what the whānau priorities are or how they have been impacted by COVID?
- What factors may be impacting on this whānau? (e.g. housing, loss of income, access to usual supports). What else might you need to know?
- If the whānau are former migrants or refugees, what support might be needed to talk with them?
Who will you communicate with?
- Who is the main contact?
- How will you keep connected with whānau? Talk with them about future contact – how you will contact each other, when, how often, etc Connectedness includes working together on solutions for the ākonga.
- Do you feel ready and able to have discussions with whānau?
- Who else could be involved to assist?
Hope is the belief that things will get better, and that people will recover. How can you promote hope?
- How will you reassure ākonga and whānau that their feelings are normal?
- Do you feel emotionally ready to provide support?
- How will you ensure whānau will be involved in decision making, going forward?
What support might whānau need?
- Do they have food, shelter, financial and material assistance?
- Does the whānau know what supports are available? Checking and providing help to access these first, will be a priority for whānau.
- If the whānau speak a language at home that is not English, consider what supports they might need. What support do you need to communicate effectively with them?
Self-efficacy is about having belief that actions will likely lead to positive change and outcomes and feeling able to help oneself. How will you help to promote this?
- How will you engage whānau in meeting their own needs?
- How can you assist with decision making or help with prioritising or problem solving?
- What skill set will you need?
What cultural norms and family dynamics do you need to consider with each whānau?
- What religious beliefs or rituals are important to them?
- Are there gender or age considerations?
- What language needs are there?