Reinvesting in our Parenting Routines – Distance Learning Week 4

Dear UNIS Elementary Families,

As the reality of another week of distance learning and disruption of our regular routines sets in this week we’d like to focus on keeping it simple and go back to some parenting basics. 


We kindly invite you to consider the following three mini-topics. You can conduct a little bit of self-analysis by considering where your family is currently, and where you might like to be. 

  1. Bedtime on a “school night”

Ask Yourself: 

  • How have your family’s bedtimes changed during school closure? 

Keep it Simple: 

  •  This week your child does not have to be “at school” by a certain time, but that will change soon enough (fingers crossed)!
  • We recommend slowly moving your child’s bedtime, in the case that they are staying up later than a normal on a “school night”, back towards the regular time. If you shift bedtime by 15-20 min a night, every two days, will that get your family back to ‘normal’ by next week? 
  • READ MORE: LINK – a recommended article on sleep

2. Start to snap back into productive morning routines

Ask Yourself: 

  • How different are your morning routines these days compared to when school campus is open? Would your family get out the door on time tomorrow (and stress free) if campus was reopened? 

Keep it Simple: 

  • Combined with a renewed attention to bedtimes, having your children start their day with a series of responsibilities will help shake any built-up lethargy out of your home this week. 
  • Consider writing or drawing the list of daily ‘wake up’ responsibilities that your child needs to complete… then…. Shhh! No nagging, let them self-manage through the list. Start tomorrow and see if each day this week can run smoother than the last!  
  • Check out this parent’s blog for excellent examples of chore and daily routine cards for kids. 

3. Your child can lead more aspects of their learning 

Ask Yourself: 

  • Now entering a 4th week of distance learning, your child(ren) are not novices at this any more, and neither are you!
  • Think about your child: what responsibilities can you hand over this week, which they wouldn’t have been ready for in week #1? 

Keep it Simple: 

  • The on-campus parent sessions last week were filled with stories of success and also struggle. One of the common themes was having a predictable schedule for the day that everyone in the family can follow to help bring a sense of order to the day and week. 
  • In what ways can you expect your child to extend themself this week and take more responsibility for their learning? 
    • Could they create their own daily schedule and check-off when tasks are complete? 
    • Could they prioritize which learning activities are the most important for them to complete? 
    • Could they start independently using a timer to assign time limits on how long they plan to spend on an activity?
    • READ MORE: LINK – an accessible article on executive function


Warmest regards, 

The UNIS ES Counseling Team

Kris Bezzerides (Discovery – Grade 2,

Dylan Meikle (Grades 3-5,

Fresh Thinking on our COVID-19 Experience – Distance Learning Week 3

Dear Parents,

This week we wanted to share a few thoughts, supported by some articles from around the web, that have been influential on us during this time of distance learning. These articles are timely and topical pieces that you might like to read. The expressed opinions in the articles belong solely to the writers, and do not necessarily represent UNIS Hanoi. We humbly offer them as “food for thought” during a disrupted time.

It is important to make sure that we cycle back to the topic of self-care and compassion for parents. Our first article linked below is from the Greater Good Magazine out of UC Berkeley and it deals with this topic very thoroughly.

Mr. Marc Vermeire shared the next piece with us and it is written by a mental health professional based in Singapore. We found it to be a thoughtful, reflective and practical article that was written just last week with the COVID-19 outbreak as the impetus. You might find some valuable connections with this author’s message.

As a UN School, with an expressed Mission to develop a “supportive community that values diversity”, UNIS Hanoi is an institution that values inclusion and tolerance.

With the COVID-19 outbreak resulting in countries closing their borders to one another, and words like ‘quarantine’ entering our children’s vocabulary, we are particularly mindful at this time that we should remain vigilant of the danger of xenophobia and being stigmatized by others due to your country of passport. The following two articles provoke us to remain committed to actively countering stereotyping and exclusion that may occur as a result of COVID-19.

Some families are beginning to notice that their child, by virtue of the logistics of distance learning, is spending longer periods of time in front of a screen. Whilst we are sure that the amount of learning and skill development occurring is impressive, this also might be a good time to read more about Family Media Agreements and consider what works for your family in regards to safety and access to technology at home.

Warmest regards,

The UNIS ES Counselling Team

Kris Bezzerides (Discovery – Grade 2,
Dylan Meikle (Grades 3-5,

Elementary Counsellors: Letter to UNIS Families – Beating Cabin Fever

Cabin Fever

Cabin Fever is a term that describes the feeling of being cooped up at home, confined to an inside existence, and one that is a “catch all for the boredom and restlessness brought about by being inside for too long”*.

Whether in Hanoi or abroad, many of us are under self-quarantine. It is important to be aware of cabin fever syndrome – rooted in the feeling of confinement and isolation for an uncertain period of time. Some symptoms may include feeling irritable and restless, feeling low and lethargic, lack of patience, low stress tolerance, increased anxiety, difficulty concentrating, and decreased motivation.

Here are some strategies to help you cope with cabin fever, shared via the Western Academy of Beijing (a school that is also undergoing a period of distance learning):

  • Exercise and take a short walk outside the house whenever possible (following guidelines to help prevent exposure to the virus). Access to daylight regulates our body’s natural cycle and releases endorphins. Daily exercise is also a proven treatment for stress and low mood.
  • Keep up normal daily routine and maintain healthy eating patterns as much as possible. Routines and familiarity in times of uncertainty provide a sense of safety.
  • Avoid relying heavily on screen and tech as mindless distraction to pass time. Stimulating our minds (board games, craft, drawing, reading, crossword puzzles) helps us feel productive and reduces feelings of isolation and helplessness.
  • Maintain a positive attitude and think about how we’ve all coped with difficult situations in the past. We will overcome this too.
  • Make sure everyone gets alone time as family spends a long time together in confined spaces. It is healthy to plan and designate ‘time out’ from one another. Accept that conflict and arguments may occur between siblings, parent-children, and amongst adults.
  • Maximize the opportunities of having time inside together by taking on achievable projects such as spring cleaning, with the view to donate excess toys (etc) to a local organization. 

 Warmest regards,

The UNIS ES Counseling Team

Kris Bezzerides (Discovery – Grade 2,

Dylan Meikle (Grades 3-5,


*Being Trapped Indoors Is the Worst: The Atlantic

Beating Cabin Fever: Psychology Today

Elementary Counsellors: Letter to UNIS Families – Distance Learning Week 1

Dear UNIS Elementary School families,

It is human nature that in a crisis situation we are all in problem-solving mode and focusing on ‘doing’ something. Whether it is making plans to keep your family safe or considering contingency travel arrangements, we are all trying to do the best we can for the welfare of our children. 

At this time, we would like to encourage our community to take the time to practice self-care. We might find this to be a highly stressful and challenging period. We can help manage our anxiety by acknowledging and discussing our feelings about this situation with loved ones or with the UNIS counselors and school psychologist who are trained and equipped to deal with stressful situations like this.

Our counselors are standing by, ready to provide any social-emotional support our community needs. You can find a list of the ES counselors and their contact information at the bottom of this letter. 

Talking to your children about what is going on

Discerning adults will keep themselves updated on coronavirus outbreak from reliable sources, but children and teenagers may not be able to filter useful information for our Vietnamese context or differentiate between credible or inaccurate sources. If your child is getting the bulk of their information from social media platforms, these are notorious for rampant speculation

As such, it is important for parents to talk to their children using age-appropriate language about the virus, because understanding the infection will reduce their anxiety. Children will pick up on adults’ worries and may ask questions for which we do not have answers. It is OK for adults to say, “I don’t know, but doctors and researchers from all over the world are trying to find the answers.”

It is Ok to tell your child that they are safe, and to teach them and remind them to follow the published guidelines for staying healthy.  

Sadly, the Corona virus has and is causing fatalities internationally. When children hear reference to death, whether it be through watching TV news or hearing adults discuss it, they can become worried and anxious. Consider the age of your child, and their preparedness to understand and cope with troubling news articles before broadcasting them via devices in the public areas of your home. 

Again, depending on the age of your child, they may not have access to prior knowledge that will help them understand why school is closed and they are learning at home. For example, a young child may not know what a virus is, and how it spreads. You may discover that you will need to build age-appropriate knowledge to increase understanding and reduce anxiety.


Warmest regards, 

The UNIS ES Counseling Team

Kris Bezzerides (Discovery – Grade 2,

Dylan Meikle (Grades 3-5,

Resources for Parents: Parenting in the Digital Age

Our recent parent coffee morning Parenting in the Digital Age presented parents with an opportunity to consider how they can act as guides as their children navigate the social media landscape.

As a follow-up to the session, we are pleased to share the following resources with our parent community. If you have any questions or would like to continue the conversation our ES counsellors, Dylan Meikle, Grades 3-5 ( and Kris Bezzerides, Discovery – Grade 2 ( are always eager to connect.

These are the presentation slides that were used to anchor our coffee morning:

Parenting in the Digital Age

This is the link to the recently published Children’s Mental Health Report:

2019 Children’s Mental Health Report: Social Media, Gaming and Mental Health

This 2019 Children’s Mental Health Report helps parents, professionals and policymakers understand the online lives of children and adolescents, and answer the question: How much is too much?

And finally, these are the original articles and research referred to throughout the presentation:

Fostering Inclusive Education Benefits all ES Learners

On Friday 27th September the regular ES Admin and Parent Coffee Morning focused on the topic of inclusion.

“UNIS Hanoi celebrates the talents and diversity of its students and acknowledges the right of every learner to be empowered and successful in his/her learning.”

Our coffee morning was well attended by both parents and UNIS faculty. One of the big realizations of the morning is that we are very fortunate at UNIS Hanoi in the Elementary School to be so well resourced in terms of our number of faculty dedicated to fostering inclusion in our classrooms, as demonstrated by the following graphic.

This graphic represents all of the specialist and professional lenses that we are able to ‘look through’ when considering the needs and individuality of our students.

Parents also heard that inclusive practices in the ES at UNIS Hanoi are achieved through:

  • Collaboration and respect of all stakeholders
  • Support though an ongoing process
  • Solution oriented approach, taking action together 
  • Shared responsibility

At the end of the initial presentation parents were able to approach members of the Student Success Team to say hello and ask questions, and our EAL coaches lead break-out sessions with interested parents.

The slides of the presentation are attached here in .pdf form. It was a pleasure to be able to connect with so many parents around the theme of inclusion.

An Open Door on Student-Parent-Teacher Conferences Day!

As the school counsellor for Grades 3-5 I’d like you to know that on the Elementary School Student-Parent-Teacher Conferences Day (September 30th) I will be available to parents on a drop-in basis. My room, as you may know, is upstairs near the bridge to the school library, room 102a. 

Given that students will be in attendance on Monday, you may feel that you would like to speak without your child present. Please know that I am always happy to take appointments at mutually convenient times. Please send an email to to arrange a time to meet.

To read more about the work counsellors do at UNIS Hanoi to support the social and emotional growth and development of all students, please visit this UNIS Hanoi webpage

Kindest regards, 

Dylan Meikle
Elementary School Counsellor, Grades 3-5

Students Made Their Marks on International Dot Day

Last week the ES Visual Art department celebrated International Dot Day, celebrating courage creativity and collaboration. Students from Discovery to Grade 5 created their own dots, in a range of media and with personal designs. These were then cut into quarters and re-arranged as a group artwork with their class, to create a collaborative quilt of dots.

Please come to visit the students’ Dot Day installation, in the Centre for the Arts corridor, outside rooms 111 and 108 on the first floor, to see how your children “made their mark” in the spirit of Peter H. Reynolds’ wonderful book “The Dot.”

Skateboarding Unit

Grades 2 and 4 will begin their skateboarding unit on October 1st. This unit will run until November 1st.

All students must wear sport shoes. If a student wears sandals, crocs, or other inappropriate footwear, they will not be able to participate in the skateboarding activities.

Students are allowed to bring their own skateboards, helmets, elbow pads, and knee pads for this unit.