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School or No School? Advice From Our Psychologist For Those Choosing The Remote Learning Option

Education is a multi-faceted process. It is typically associated with schools and universities and is ideologically the acquisition of knowledge, habits, values, and skills administered through systematic instruction. Generally speaking, there are three types of education: formal, informal, and non-formal. Whilst the informal and non-formal echo similarities, they are indeed set apart. As a matter of fact, it is precisely the non-formal type of education the world is currently experiencing. We are in a learning curve that has no prior history or data to assist us. What to do, in an unprecedented global pandemic, has taken on a trial and error approach.

Conversely, we have plenty of knowledge, experience, and understanding of factors involving the development of students in diverse scenarios. This expertise is paramount as we move forward and determine the best course of action for students and implement new strategies. A balanced approach is essential in determining the welfare of the students coupled with the most effective measures to obtain the optimum outcome.

Considering the complexity of the problem, we should highlight the importance of the student’s current state of mind. We need to examine the long-term and short-term effects of implementing unnatural guidelines that will impact students indefinitely. We need to identify the mindset and emotional impact the students are currently experiencing when considering the best options for our children.

The current restrictions concerning social distancing, wearing masks, quarantines, school and business closures etc., have an enormous effect on society, causing anxiety, depression, fear, uncertainty, and unfortunately social unrest. Children, however; are far more equipped to adjust to change and adapt to unusual requirements and circumstances. Nevertheless, this does not alleviate the challenge of preventing long-term psychological effects on these young minds. We cannot ignore the fact that as humans, we are a nurturing, affectionate, physical contact-based creation. Children thrive on these natural elements of our being and the stress of limiting these interactions is yet to be measured on a global scale. Knowledge of such deprivation, under previous conditions in modern history, is well documented and proactively remedied.

We can lessen the severity of psychological impacts on students by using our resources and implementing behavioral management with less severe dynamics. Greater consideration needs to be given to extreme factors that have noticeable effects on the students. The home environment is an integral part of the softening of harsh effects on children. More attention needs to be given to family unity and quality time together. A vigilant approach to the signs of depression, anxiety, and listlessness needs to be more readily adopted by parents, teachers, and people of authority. Turning negatives into positives, teaching respect, and consideration for others by following guidelines and empowering their minds with the understanding that their contribution is noticeably important. Counter the fear of sickness or death of family and loved ones, through reassurance with the understanding that our combined efforts will overcome and defeat all threats.

Tips and Strategies for Parents:

  • Communicate, Communicate, Communicate: Don't judge your child’s feelings, validate their concerns and fears.
  • Keep routines: Consistency is the key to success; children thrive on consistency and structure.
  • Create new family activities: Have fun, create unity, and love.
  • Stressed, children are too; they just may express it differently:  Make sure to destress together, teach your child how to relax.
  • Understand the complexity of fears, anxiety, and challenges children are enduring: Frequently reassure and discuss strategies
  • Limit news:  Bad news increases anxiety and depression.
  • Distancing does not mean isolation: Let children communicate to friends and family through the diverse communication devices available today.
  • Reach out to others for help: Friends, spouse, family members, and professionals.
  • Less punishing and more support:  Attempt to stay calm and model appropriate management of stress.

The awareness that children are our future and the acknowledgment of unstable, uncertain times is the beginning of ending a hazardous threat to humanity. Our decisions should reflect a well-balanced approach in considering all options, for the betterment of the education and well-being of our children. There is no, one-size-fits-all solution to unchartered waters, rather careful navigation through the tides of change.

Dr Jeanne Howes, Ph.D bio

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