For parents in Malaysia, the struggle to keep their children motivated at home during this prolonged lockdown has never been more real. Children are being kept away from much needed face-to-face playtime and social interaction with their friends. In the long run and if left unaddressed, the situation can give rise to what experts are calling home-based learning fatigue.

Nur Eliwayaton binti Mohd Alias, 41 from Sg Petani, Kedah keeping her son active at home during lockdown through badminton lessons online via MILO Champion Clinic: E-Coaching.

The problem, according to developmental psychologist and Sunway University senior teaching fellow Elaine Yong, is two-fold. “Burnout and boredom,” she explained. “Mental exhaustion due to extended periods of home-based learning can cause learning burnout, while the extra time during the day that children have which is usually reserved for school activities can cause boredom. This can lead to more screen time on smart devices and gadgets.”

Elaine Yong
While admittedly there is no silver bullet to beat burnout and boredom, there are ingenious ways that parents can use to help keep home-based learning fatigue at bay. “Start by creating routines. Simple and consistent daily routines are best,” Elaine said, adding that making task management a norm helps children to settle into their routine. “It can be as easy as completing a set of 3 to 4 manageable tasks a day, arranged in order of preference or degrees of difficulty.”

With families staying safe at home, the line between learning and resting, the latter of which is a crucial yet overlooked aspect of children’s mental wellness, is often blurred. “Mandating rest days is a good start – make sure there is one ‘no school work day’ or ‘no device day’ for the whole family to spend quality time with each other,” she recommended. “And on those rest days, encourage children to start a hobby, discover a new interest or take up a new sport.”

Playing sports helps support children’s mental wellness. “It is a positive way to destress and improve sleep quality,” Elaine said. “Keeping the body active leads to better attention and focus. An active body is an active mind.”

Although the pandemic and associated restrictions around physical contact have put sports on the back burner, parents are encouraged to keep their children active at home. “Motion is lotion for young developing muscles and skeletal growth,” stressed Elaine.

Sundhary Krishan, 40 from Kuala Lumpur keeping her son active at home during lockdown through futsal lessons online via MILO Champion Clinic: E-Coaching.

As many states around the country have transitioned into Phases Two and above of the National Recovery Plan, families can now enjoy outdoor activities with more relaxed SOPs. Elaine recommended walking, cycling or jogging around the residential neighbourhood as a family for 30 minutes twice a week. “Turn it to a nature discovery session, as many children particularly in urban areas do not have an appreciation for nature,” she added.

To those who choose to remain indoors, the house can easily be turned into an active zone. That was what parents who signed up their children for online sports classes under MILO Champions Clinic: E-Coaching did.

MILO Champions Clinic: E-Coaching brings professional sports training for children ages 7 to 12 to the safety of their own homes online. Available in three sports – futsal, basketball and badminton – this programme helps children stay active and instills sports values that they get to keep for life.

Many parents found the programme a good alternative to sport clubs as co-curricular activities are still being suspended, while motivating their children to keep going. Sundhary Krishan (40), a mother from Kuala Lumpur said, “Not only did MILO Champions Clinic: E-Coaching give my son the opportunity to fulfil his desire to play futsal by training at home, it also helped him relieve the stress of online classes.”

Nur Eliwayaton binti Mohd Alias (41) from Sungai Petani, Kedah echoed Sundhary’s thoughts. “My son was always raring to go back out there and play futsal. As such, I’m glad I found the MILO Champions Clinic: E-Coaching to tide him over at home. He loved it so much that he asked me to sign him up for badminton lessons as well,” she added.

Another parent who rediscovered the transformative power of sport through MILO Champions Clinic: E-Coaching was Rane Chin (40) from Batu Caves, Selangor who also enrolled her two daughters in badminton lessons. “Sport helps my girls to be more positive amidst the doom and gloom of lockdown. In turn, it inspires us as a family to keep looking up and stay stronger together,” she said.