COVID-19’s Effect on Children and virtual schooling. It’s no secret that COVID-19 has impacted many aspects of our society, one of the most significant being our education system. From online schooling to socially distanced in-person classes, to a hybrid of the two, teachers and families have had to adjust to several “new normals.” While there is no cookie-cutter solution to the obstacles created by the pandemic, understanding some of the ways it is affecting everyone can help create a more healthy learning environment.
Effects on families & teachers: In many cases, COVID-19 has drastically changed family dynamics. Some parents are playing the role of teachers, while others work full-time jobs and thus children are on their own to navigate their school work. Additionally, due to the changing structures, many children are lacking social stimulation and do not have access to previously relied upon resources. For instance, children with disabilities and learning impairments may not be receiving special and individualized attention, and others may no longer have access to mental health counseling.
On the other hand, teachers have had to pivot constantly and change (and even recreate) their lesson plans to best engage students. The boundary between work and home has become increasingly blurred as teachers adjust to conducting virtual lessons and supplemental tutoring sessions.
Tips for adjusting: Almost one year later, we are still learning what works best for families and teachers. While obstacles are inevitable, there are ways to help mitigate the challenges we are facing.
Make the most of your resources: Some families are fortunate enough to be able to hire extra tutoring and aids to care for and teach their children. However, family income levels and access to opportunities vary. No matter your income level nor quality of school district, parents and children should build relationships with teachers and utilize free resources online for supplemental educational materials.
Routine is everything: With virtual schooling, it is difficult to achieve consistent and orderly class times and periods. Families should work to establish a consistent and healthy school day routine. Creating a routine with small habits can lead to small changes over time, which can contribute to a healthy and happy life. For example, wake up 30 minutes earlier to get a head start and eliminate some morning stress.
Set healthy boundaries: Families and teachers must develop firm boundaries indicating when school time starts and ends. In order to foster a productive work environment, children should create a designated workspace where they can focus. For example, if a child is getting distracted in their room, set up a mini-office or school desk in a different area of the house with less distractions.
Encourage open communication: The pandemic is scary and confusing, and virtual schooling can be frustrating. Therefore, it is important to foster open dialogue with children and have intentional conversations. As a parent, it is important to gauge why your child is responding the way that they are toward virtual schooling. For instance, why do they prefer online schooling? What does this say about their perception of their learning environment? It may be as simple as they’re more introverted or it could be for a more serious reason, like bullying.
Practice self-care: Everyone should prioritize their self-care and understand its importance. Self-care includes taking deliberate actions to care for our mental, emotional and physical health. Practices can include exercising, expressing gratitude, writing in a journal, breathing exercises, eating healthy, building family relationships, playing games and learning a new skill set.
As we head into 2021 and a new semester, consider implementing these tips into your school routines. Taylor Counseling Group therapists are also available to provide support and alleviate mental health challenges as we continue to navigate the pandemic together.