Surviving the MCO & Beyond: Changes in Education after COVID-19

Surviving the MCO & Beyond: Changes in Education after COVID-19

cheerful young little girl children using laptop computer with headphones studying through online e-learning system in chalkboard background.

The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted everyone in ways we could never imagine.

Public health emergencies have been declared in almost every country around the world.

Yet, the unfortunate thing is that even more harm and damage can be expected in the days ahead until a vaccine is found.

In United States, the country with largest number of confirmed COVID-19 cases, children represent 1.7% percent of cases with a 0.04% mortality rate.

Closer to home, 3.3% of total cases in Malaysia are children below 9 years old. No deaths has been reported so far.


Emerging evidence also suggests that children are more likely to be asymptomatic, less likely to be hospitalized, and much less likely to die if they do develop COVID-19.


Nevertheless, schools around the world have been shut down so that the children are kept at home.

This is done to ensure that children do not become carriers of COVID-19, infecting the older adults with chronic conditions at home.

The easing of the nation-wide Movement Control Order (“MCO”) at the beginning of May was a necessary decision to revive the country’s economic outlook.

However, it will be some time before our children can return to school again.


Education Beyond Borders

As schools are being forced into full closure, educators were compelled to harness and utilize available technological tools to create content for remote learning.

In the weeks and months following the outbreak, educators around the world find themselves experiencing new possibilities of doing things differently.

Children were taken on virtual field trips while creative story-telling and role-playing brought classic stories to live.

Many schools in Malaysia have also launched live lessons and tutorials in the weeks pursuant to the first MCO announcement to ensure teaching and learning continues from home.

The use of web- conferencing applications like Zoom, Microsoft Teams and CISCO Webex Meetings soon became popular favorites among educators, enabling them to connect with their children online.

The formats of online lessons are varied, catering to differing needs and situations.

Ultimately, educators try our best to make the online lessons as interesting and as effective as it can be although we know it can never replace face-to- face learning, especially for the younger children.

  • Live lessons in larger groups – classes are usually conducted to introduce or explain a concept, for storytelling, music & movement, or physical activities.
  • Tutorial lessons in small, targeted groups – carried out to facilitate more interactive discussions and reinforcement activities.
  • On-demand videos – are suitable for more complex activities involving a series of instructions like act & craft, baking or science experiments. These videos are pre-recorded and can be re-played repeatedly.
  • Enrichment Classes – utilizes creative and innovative approaches to teach language, dance, music or art.

The future of education would no longer be limited by location or geographical borders.

Schools will no longer need physical premises. Educators can reach their students anywhere in the world.

Technology will change the way our children learn, and the way we live, moving forward.


Distance learning. Cheerful little girl girl in headphones using laptop studying through online e-learning system

Redefining the Role of Educators

As the students become more tech-savvy, the notion that knowledge is in hands of the educator is no longer true.

With access to the internet at their fingertips, the speed and accessibility to knowledge has been completely transformed. Educators may soon find their roles evolving into facilitators on digital platforms.

More effort needs to go into creating visually stimulating images, emotionally striking stories or thought-provoking scenarios to keep the students engaged throughout the lesson.

Short quizzes and riddles may pepper each class, with students constantly called to give their opinions or answer questions to keep them on their feet.

For the younger learners who are unable to navigate into break-out rooms or engage in effective debates, mini parent-child interaction projects could be an effective alternative.

In 2017, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) published a report1 that addressed the issue of digital skills needed for life and work.

Beyond these skills, the UNESCO report also highlighted “ICT-complementary skills” such as critical thinking and problem-solving, creativity, innovation, entrepreneurship, collaboration and teamwork, plus communication are important skills needed for life and work.

Consequently, these digital learning approaches mentioned above move away from traditional “spoon-feeding” and indirectly support the development of ICT- complementary skills that are gaining increased importance especially for Generation Alpha, the children of millennials.


“ICT-complementary skills” such as critical thinking and problem-solving, creativity, innovation, entrepreneurship, collaboration and teamwork, plus communication are important skills needed for life and work.


happy Little girl looking at laptop  with her mother

Developing Resilience & Emotional Intelligence

Resilience is our ability to thrive or bounce back after a stressful situation.

Resilient children tend to be more adaptable and adopt a more positive attitude about difficult or challenging situations.

Being confined at home for an extended period, emotional and behavioral changes in children are to be expected.

We find ourselves adjusting to changes in daily routines, working from home and eating all our meals at home.

Basically, we are just stuck with each other every day. Some children may show signs of emotional distress like anxiety, sadness, irritability, and anger.

The COVID-19 pandemic presents the perfect opportunity for parents and educators to teach our children about resilient skills, overcome negative emotions and guide them to express their emotions appropriately.

Cultivating mindfulness can also help children to self-soothe and self-regulate.

Deep breathing exercises, yoga and art are wonderful ways to keep your child focused, calm and grounded.

Be creative in helping your child to engage in mindful activities.Give them lots of hugs and kisses.

Gratitude is a virtue that allows us to seethe best in each other and in our lives.

Expressing gratitude reminds ourselvesfor things we have and the experiences we get.

Research has found that teaching gratitude to children increases their happiness, optimism and generosity.

Encourage your child to keep a gratitude journal and give positive affirmations to each other every day.


The Evolving Role of Parents

Before the MCO, some of us may have been envious of our friends who got to work-from-home (“WFH”) as they seemingly had the best of both worlds.

However, it turns out, the grass is always greener on the other side.

Working from home with the children around the house has been nothing like what we envisioned.

And for those of us without a stay-in helper, the chores of cooking, cleaning and washing can be endless.

As a full-time working mum, working from home, it also meant being able to multi-task while actively supporting my children on home- based learning programs provided by their schools.

For some of us who have young children who are still adjusting to this new mode of learning, a lot more parental involvement is required.


Mom playing with her 2 years old son and preschool daughter at home. Mother drawing with pencils together with children.


Besides technical support, they also need considerable help in terms of digesting the lessons taught, figuring out homework submissions, reminders for them to participate in virtual lessons and so on.

As disruptive and troublesome as it might be, perhaps it is time to re-think the role of parents.

Perhaps it is modern parenting or the pretext that dual income is necessary for survival in the 21st century that gave us the excuse to outsource caring and educating our children to the schools, educators, or even our helpers.

Rather than whining and nit-picking (on your spouse or your child’s teachers), its high time we roll-up our sleeves and reclaim the role as the steward of our children’s education and well-being.

Being stuck at home has forced us to unpack our schedules and re-define our priorities between work life and family life. No one can teach them better than you because they learn from you, their role models.


No one can teach them better than you -their role models


Medical experts believe that COVID-19 is here to stay and will continue to be part of our lives for a long time.

We cannot keep our children at home forever.

As a matter of fact, our children thrive on building connections, peer interactions and social acceptance.

Perhaps an unprecedented crisis like this is all we need to rethink and reinvent the future of education – for the sake of our children.

Perhaps a blended approach that combines the use of both digital learning and face-to-face meetings would help us to find the right balance.

Most importantly, be part of your children’s education because who they become is in your hands.


1 UNESCO, Working Group on Education: Digital Skills For Life and Work, September 2017, Page 47

Faye Tan is the founder and CEO of a multiple award-winning nursery & preschool. A financial controller turned educator, Faye endeavours to make quality early education & care available and accessible through her schools. Faye will be sharing her insights about the challenges of 21st century parenting in this column. Faye would be happy to hear from you at

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