Helping matrics deal with strong emotions as they return to school

Our children have suffered many losses as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. Some of them may have lost a family member and all of them have lost what they once considered ‘normal’, perhaps forever. PatchSA’s Tracy Rawlins spoke to a group of Matric students in the Eastern Cape to help them recognise and manage their feelings. 

Earlier this month PatchSA was asked by St. Monica’s Diocesan School in the Eastern Cape to give a talk/presentation to their Grade 12 class on Covid-19 and how it is affecting them and their final year. The teachers of the school had realised that several of their pupils were not coping well with the transition to the ‘new normal’ that has become their school experience and were also looking for some guidance on how best they could assist these children.

Tracy talking to the students

In response, PatchSA’s Education Manager, Tracy Rawlins, went to the school on Monday 22 June to talk to and interact with the students. Her talk included a variety of topics such as the transmission of the coronavirus, total suffering, loss and grief, adversity and resilience, coping skills and how to move forward in these uncertain times.

The talk also included a number of interactive activities such as making the coronavirus from playdough, a coping continuum activity and a couple of questionnaires to assist them in identifying where they find themselves emotionally and when to seek further support.

Feedback received indicated that the presentations were well received by the pupils and Tracy reports that responses to the questionnaire showed that pupils were generally not coping well and need extra support and assistance at this time. As a result, the school have begun implementing plans to assist and offer extra support to their pupils. This will be in the form of one-on-one counselling as well as referrals to psychologists if and where necessary. The school have also requested that Tracy  present a similar talk to the Grade 11’s on their return to school.

A student records his feelings

Emotional rollercoaster

The mother of a matric pupil in another part of the country shared the following message with Tracy:

“…it has been a tough time and you know how hard it is to watch your child suffer and struggle. Her and I have had a few chats and cries together, I have encouraged her to take things a day at a time. I can recognise the grief she is going through, sadness, anger… the rollercoaster of emotions. She has always got so involved in all aspects of school life and nothing now to get involved in. Wish you could come to my daughter’s school; they really haven’t had any help in that way.”

Patch is very aware that many young people around the country are struggling with the changes to their school life and grieving the loss of many experiences that a normal school year would have afforded them. We believe that schools need to recognise that some of their pupils are not coping emotionally during these uncertain times and will need extra support – whether it be through group counselling, one on one counselling or even the support of  psychologists.

Should you wish to find out more about these presentations and how we can assist your school, please contact Tracy Rawlins at tracy.rawlins@patchsa.org or phone her on 0834676585.