I have been asked to contribute to Education World India about the impact online learning has had on children.
Here are my thoughts:
With the sudden halt to in-person learning, many students have missed their friends, yearned to be out of the house, developed erratic sleep habits and drove their (often working) parents crazy. On top of that, many were dealing with the trauma of a sick or dying family member, economic hardship and major changes to the life they once had.
As the pandemic drags on, it’s clear that not all kids are all right. According to a survey by Gallup nearly 3 in 10 parents said their child is experiencing emotional or mental anxiety because of social distancing and school closures.
‘Unmoored’ is the best way I can describe it, as children feel adrift from their routines, their friends & grandparents & grapple with uncertainty & are feeling untethered from a sense of a carefree childhood. There has been a rise in anxiety, stress & depression in young people & children during the pandemic.
Schools should think about using the virtual learning environment to create a new relationship between teachers and children not just one where kids can get help with maths , but where children are talking to teachers about what’s going on & the focus is on their well-being & mental health.
Children are resilient & can bounce back but it’s easier if they have support. Schools should set aside time for teaching non-academic “soft skills” such as emotional connection & empathy & help children with practical tips for self-care.
Parents can support their children by actively listening, creating new routines that create a feeling of predictability in an uncertain world & nurturing self esteem & self care by playing, talking & eating with them.
Collaboration between schools, families, community leaders and health officials will be even more critical to support children’s needs in and out of school as the world grapples with controlling the virus.
Here is my free ebook The 9 Keys to Resilience