Nourishing Teenagers' Well-Being in the New Normal of Learning

Mapúa University conducted a free webinar entitled  “Nourishing Your Teenager's Well-Being in the New Normal of Learning,”  to help momm...

Mapúa University conducted a free webinar entitled “Nourishing Your Teenager's Well-Being in the New Normal of Learning,” to help mommy attendees learn how to nourish teenager's well-being in the new normal of learning.  My eldest is an incoming senior high school and since he was little, I've been an intentional mom to him.  If you still have your young children and toddlers with you whom you wish would grow up soon, I tell you, having a teenager is a different ball game.

In my experience of being a teenager mom, I can say that their phase is more complicated compared to younger ones.  I know you know that so well because you were once a teenager right?  They have different beliefs and you can't easily sway their decisions of influence them because they listen more to peers at this stage.

One thing I learned is to build a strong and open communication with them while they are young.  This way, they can't help open up issues or emotions with you even when they are teenagers.  That's the kind of relationship I have with my teenager son.  Praise God.

But even if I think I know my son so well, Mapua University's webinar was still an eye-opener to me especially in the area of studying or learning.  What makes it even timely and valuable is that our teenagers are also coping with the new normal of learning because of the pandemic.  I want to share with you some important key takeaways from the talk.

The webinar discussed topics ranging from assessing Filipino students’ readiness for online learning, mental and emotional challenges during online learning, nourishing the students’ well-being to adapt to the new normal of learning, as well as Mapúa’s Center for Guidance and Counseling (CGC) programs in enhancing the well-being of students.

Self-Regulation/Self-Regulated Learning
This depends on the student's behavior and performances in online education. According to Dr. Edward Jay M. Quinto, an associate professor at the Mapúa’s School of Social Sciences and Education, self-regulated learning is multi-component and that these components include goal setting, environmental structuring, time management, task strategies, help seeking, and self-evaluation. We need to know our children really well in order to know what learning styles fit them.  What are your teenager's talents, special skills, or how is he or she unique? As parents we should also know if they are introverted? extroverted? This also includes even their time management skills, do they prepare ahead of time or are better when cramming?  How about learning environment, do they study better in their room, on the bed or traditional desk and chair?  Also on goal setting when our kids don't do well especially in compliance, we should be able to explain how things are done and why they should be done that way.  Are they are help-seeking or self-reliant?  Their personalities dictate what kind of learner are they and knowing this help us as parents to efficiently boost their confidence in learning in this new normal.

    Things can ask our teenagers:
    - What are their learning style or what method of learning helps them better?
    -  Do they work better when tasks are given daily or for projects do they want open deadlines?
    -  Do they feel more confident when they ask their classmates or teachers regarding their lessons or can they do self-study or work better alone?

Mental and Emotional State of Students
The pandemic has clearly affected our teenagers and may affect their learning capabilities or readiness.  that's why the compassion survey conducted among students by Mapua University was helpful in providing insights on intervention techniques that can be used by both parents and educators.  Dr. Jonathan V. Macayan, the dean of the School of Social Sciences and Education pointed out that the responsibilities of the school in addressing the mental and emotional well-being of students include the design and implementation of academic and school policies that are sensitive to and supportive of the mental health and well-being of students, the development of a school–parent collaboration system that will aim to monitor and ensure students’ well-being in online learning, as well as the development and implementation of necessary student support services.

    Things we can ask our teenagers:
    -  What are they uncertain of?  
    -  Do they sometimes feel alone or helpless?
    -  Can they identify themselves well when at home?  With peers?  

Fostering Resilience
The third speaker is the University’s program chair for Behavioral and Human Science, Prof. Jasmine Nadja J. Pinugu, who points out that fostering resilience is critical to a teenager’s well-being during difficult times.  She said that the key to nourishing students’ well-being is by fostering resilience, and one can do this by maintaining a positive self-regard for themselves, teaching them life skills such as positive coping and problem-solving skills, enabling them to have a sense of purpose and agency, maintaining positive social connections, as well as emotional regulation.  “At this time of pandemic, there should be stronger collaboration between the students, parents,
and the teachers,” Pinugu said.

    How we can help as parents:
    - Teach them kindness and forgiveness not only of other but of themselves.
    - Teach them life skills by making them decide on certain matters at home to encourage critical thinking.
    - Show interest in what they do and asking how they are doing.
    - Train how to make daily or weekly plans and sticking to them.
    - Teach importance of complete sleep and teaching mindfulness in every thing they do.

Arlene V. Clarete-Macatuggal, Mapúa’s director for student advising and counseling, shared how the University has been responding to the needs of its students while learning in an online environment.  She explained that Mapúa CGC offers various services for its students to help them cope with the new normal. These services include counseling, coordinating, appraising, and consulting services.  “We just don’t wait for students to come to us, but we schedule them for counseling through Blackboard or [Facebook Messenger] to help them with their needs,” Macatuggal said. 

I personally learned a lot after attending the webinar.  My favorite topic was THE PLACE that our teenagers go to (a part of  their persona - where they can identify themselves as a unique individual from one place to another).  As parents, we really need to be in constant communication with our teenagers.  We need to be intentional in getting to know them.  This will signal us whether they are okay or are in trouble because their overall well-being affects how they will perform in the new normal of learning.  

Through the webinar, Mapúa University aims to best equip parents with the tools needed to help their children have a productive, engaging, and safe learning experience remotely. It is imperative that parents, students, and the academe work together to provide a seamless academic experience for children via the online learning journey.

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