A mountain load of changes greeted APSN students, parents and staff alike when mandatory Home-Based Learning (HBL) was announced to be implemented in early April. These developments came in the form of the revised modes of communications, routines, learning methodologies and even who taught whom.
Ms Gan Hui Hoon, a social worker at APSN Katong School (KS), and the rest of the Allied Professional (AP) team made special arrangements to meet the different needs that emerged.
For the students without caregiver support who were in school, the APs supported them by:
- helping students to transit to unfamiliar teachers and adapt to new routines besides ordering their meals; and
- briefing teachers on how to support these students, what homework each student had, as well as the strengths, weaknesses and risks/trigger points of each student.
The AP team also supported the school’s HBL efforts through the making of online resources (social stories, visual schedules, fine motor skills craft for occupational therapy, sensory kits, speech exercises and more).
“The whole AP team worked very hard during HBL: we continued counselling/therapy sessions through Microsoft Teams or WhatsApp video calls, and this went on even during the school holidays,” Ms Gan says.
Some parents experienced anxiety because of the social isolation resulting from the stay-home regulations and having to cope with the change of learning mode and routines. Part of the first week of HBL was spent on giving emotional support and teaching caregivers and students how to use Microsoft Teams. “As a social worker, I helped parents to be emotionally stable. When the parents were able to manage themselves, they could better manage their children.”
The AP team stepped in to continue to provide emotional support to parents, and shared with them self-care tips, community resources such as helplines, and a virtual care pack.
The social workers supported needy families with additional meal and transport subsidies, loan of laptops and SIM cards donated by Temasek Foundation and NEU PC Plus applications to have the laptops and Internet access for online learning.
Ms Gan affirms, “The AP team and I are glad that we could accompany the parents and students who went through this tough and special journey together. We survived the storm because we held on to each other throughout.”