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Scores of residents in Westmoreland benefited from a virtual parenting seminar hosted by the Kiwanis Club of Westmoreland Capital on November 12.

The event, which was held under the theme ‘Coping Skills for Children and Parents during the COVID-19 Pandemic’, formed part of activities marking November as Parent Month.

The forum facilitated stakeholder discussions and sharing of parenting best practices, and sought to equip the participants with the necessary skills to cope psychologically during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and address challenges associated with online learning.

Guest speaker, Director of Youth Ministry with the Anglican Diocese of Jamaica and the Cayman Islands, Reverend Craig Mears, noted that a paradigm shift has occurred within home environments as a result of COVID-19.

He said parents are presented with new challenges on how best to prepare and support their children for online learning, pointing out that this has resulted in undue stress and anxiety for them.

Rev. Mears argued that not only has COVID-19 “affected our health and our economic situation but it also has affected us in psychosocial ways”.

Noting that children and adults alike are being impacted, he contended that “societies will be changed forever”.

“We are a people who love to feel connected, and part of that connection is being close to one another, touching one another,” he said.

The Youth Director said this scenario poses challenges for many persons, “because we want to fight the spread of the virus and [doing so means that] we have to keep our distance; but in keeping our distance it affects our way of life”.

Reverend Mears, who is also Assistant Priest at the St. Andrew Parish Church, encouraged parents to develop a structure in order to maintain a sense of balance.

He also urged them to effectively support and monitor their children during the virtual learning process to ensure the best possible outcomes for them.

Rev. Mears said the 2020 Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) examination results “have proven that our children will step up to the plate when required and when supported”.

Against this background, he said it was incumbent on the parents of youngsters now preparing for these and other exams to play a greater role in ensuring that they do the activities they are sent on a daily basis, and submit them, “because that is what learning [entails] these days”.

“Parents [aren’t] just caregivers by catering only to the emotional needs [of their children]… . You have to take on the role of part-time educator at this time,” Rev. Mears added.

For his part, National Parent-Teacher Association of Jamaica Region 4 Chairman, Devon Maxwell, urged parents to “try different methods” to cope with the challenges of the pandemic.

Additionally, he encouraged fathers to become more involved in the lives of their children, in keeping with the theme for Parent Month: ‘Fathers Rise, Lead and Be Wise!’.

“The theme… is one that we embrace, one that will add morals, values and positive attitudes. In fact, I regard the theme as a cry from our children for the involvement of fathers in their lives,” Mr. Maxwell said.

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