By Fatema Agarkar
April 30, 2021 (IANSlife) While some states and cities in India saw the partial opening of schools for a short period of time prior to the new virus mutations that make the second wave so much more severe, it is a fact that pre-schoolers and those in elementary years, including primary years, continued to operate with their virtual engagements.
As it was not deemed ‘safe’ for them to be in physical environments other than the safety of their homes given a host of reasons that were agreed upon by governments, education departments, local administration, etc. In fact, if reports are to be believed, even those that could attend school as a physical class had many parents deciding against this, forcing schools to adopt the blended format of learning.
This ‘wait’ for the physical school for those that were denied entry, to the ‘anxiety' associated with the physical classes did create a further impact on children and the way they express themselves.
The conversations around Covid are not joyous ones and be it news channels or discussions at home with everyone is locked in did its fair share of damage to these little minds who suddenly found themselves ‘distanced’, isolated, restrained, and being exposed to circumstances that were totally alien. From the ‘breaks’ they got from their home when in school, or outdoors, playing or even in classes, this around the clock with nowhere to go and dependent on their family for support was a challenge for these children and that is a simple fact. They missed their friends, the comfort of their teachers helping them and generally life turned on them!
The teachers tried their best to engage, create activities, parents with their own workload toiled away, but the ‘distance’ for the younger children was especially difficult and teenagers have complained of fatigue as well. Their little world turned upside down in the past 12 months, a school year has gone by, and to be told yet again that the world will not normalise despite some ‘vaccines’ because the ‘numbers are rising’ is all too much for children this young. If adults are experiencing languishing, lethargy, lack of motivation, depression, and loneliness, imagine the children!! As Harvard researchers point out, they are still ‘work-in-progress’ and do not have the experience to manage or cope, and yet they are being forced to!
This makes for a strong case for adults be it teachers or parents to think long and hard about the well-being - emotional, social, and behavioural health of the children. For starters, consider that they are a ‘little broken’ despite those smiles and the strong facade and with that create an approach of being compassionate, communicative, proactive, and empowering.
10 simple things to remember:
Academic milestones are critical when one thinks of developmental goals, but these can be ‘made-up’, what is extremely difficult is regaining the strength or the confidence to be emotionally secure, and content, aware, etc. which means the focus for adults who engage with these children must be about well-being a priority.
Schooling isn’t about words and numbers, and learning about mountains and rivers and moon and stars, what does any of this mean when the child is lugging around a heart that is so full of emotion, and pain that it dulls every information coming in!
(Ms. Fatema Agarkar, Educationist and Founder of ACE)
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