The ongoing health crisis and lifestyle changes caused by it continue to affect our lives. Only when we leave this situation behind will it be possible to determine its full impact on children, mental health, academic success, and development.
Children have different experiences with switching school classrooms with distant learning. While some enjoyed home-based education, for other kids, this experience was challenging and stressful.
Most kids are naturally curious about technology, so they easily adjusted to the curriculum delivered through online platforms. And there are undoubtedly great learning opportunities for students of all ages available online.
While remote learning programs focus on an individual learner, allowing students to learn at their own pace and in line with their abilities and interests, return to the classroom has its advantages, both learning and social.
With the situation returning slowly to normal, millions of children will go back to their school classrooms. How will this comeback to fast pace living after a long period of slower motion affect their development, social competencies, and learning?
Benefits and Challenges of Readjusting to Face-to-Face Learning
When the school resumes, the effects of missing face-to-face learning for a prolonged period on students’ achievement will become more visible.
Many children have experienced a significant level of disruption in their everyday routine and social interactions during the previous year. Therefore, they may benefit from support in social-emotional development once they come back to school.
Return to school classroom will involve face-to-face social interactions with their peers and teaches after a whole year of remote learning and social distancing. Some kids may be unprepared for this, struggling with social skills such as cooperation, communication, sharing, listening, and impulse control. Therefore students, especially younger kids, may need help with boosting self-confidence and emotional control.
Some children may struggle with the transition to new routines, responsibilities, and expectations. Particularly neurodiverse kids, such as those with ADHD and autism spectrum disorder, may have difficulties readjusting to classroom learning, focusing, and paying attention.
Research shows that sensory activities such as fidget toys can help assist learning and reduce stress and anxiety in these children.
Also, for some children, sudden school closures involved a high level of disruption in day-to-day routines, occurring along with other stressful or traumatic events (parent’s job loss, illness, or death in the family).
In many families, other concerns (about healthcare, jobs, finances) have prioritized school learning, so many kids may come back to the classroom unprepared and stressed out.
Additionally, school interruption has led to a significant loss of enrichment opportunities such as field trips, excursions, face-to-face classroom lessons, play dates, affecting students’ social and emotional skills.
As social distancing measures will most likely still be in place, teachers and parents need to explain to kids that, although they might seem awkward, these measures are in place to keep them healthy and safe.
They also need to feel supported, understanding that it is okay to feel anxious, stressed, and insecure and that there is help available. Qualified school counselors, teachers, and parents should all work together in the upcoming months to help children overcome the challenges of going back to their classrooms.
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