Some children really struggle in a virtual school environment while few really thrive. This type of school situation requires a coordination between teachers, parents and school staff to help keep the children connected electronically and socially.
Some tips to keep the students engaged are:
- Students should be required to use the video option, to interact with the teachers and fellow classmates
- Teachers should encourage group discussions and encourage students who do not speak often to participate
- Students and teachers should be familiar with the features of virtual classrooms
- Parents can arrange virtual activities like virtual escape rooms and mystery games
Signs of Emotional Distress in Children
- Regression in behaviors that were once mastered
- Increased separation anxiety
- Asking too many questions repeatedly
- Participatory students start interacting less
- Shifts in class engagement, work performance or attendance is a red flag
- Talk to children about recent activities in a way they can understand
- Consult therapists if required
- Introduce children and teens to apps that educate them about meditation, yoga and guided imagery
Young people may be feeling emotional stress due to reasons other than the COVID-19 pandemic. Recent events like murders of unarmed Black men and women and increased talk about racism can also affect it. It is very important to communicate with children and make them understand the situation.
Easing the Distress Children Feel
Following routines can ease distress in children. Families need to establish a clear structure and routine in children learning at home.
Children returning to physical schooling should understand the safety guidelines and know what to expect. They might also feel more comfortable if they can pick out or decorate their masks to wear each day in the classroom.
If various options of learning are available, parents need to discuss with their children about whether they want to pursue in-person, hybrid or virtual learning.
It is also important for children to list their pros and cons about each option to understand what they feel about each type of learning.
Emotional Pros and Cons of Virtual Learning
- Students tend to pay attention to facial cues
- Students improve their technological skills
- Typing skills may improve
- Impact some aspects of social and emotional skill building
- More difficult to make new friends
- More difficult to communicate in groups
Students and teachers may start interacting more once they get comfortable with the virtual platforms.
Unique Challenges of Children in Underserved Communities
- Greater risk of food insecurity
- Falling behind academically
It is crucial for these children to have at least one supportive parent to ensure they have their basic needs.
Schools should take an initiative through counselors, social workers, nurses and child study teams to reach these students using innovative methods.
In summary, children are going to have an emotionally hard time getting back into school virtually or in person. Parents and schools should communicate effectively to make students engaged and comfortable with the teaching method.