There are several grounds to believe that the Covid-19’s effects on children may be greater at different levels. This pandemic has exposed and intensified inequities that hold many students back from their normal life.
School closures and social isolation have affected not only all students but the teaching community as well.
Poverty may be one of the top reasons and because of this, a mental health crisis is emerging as many students have lost their access to school services.
Impacts on students’ academic wellness:
School closures can be disruptive for most of the students of all classes and especially for children from lower-income families, as they are seldom receive mental health services from their schools.
“You see deficits in your ability to regulate emotions in adaptive ways as a result of stress,” said Cara Wellman, a professor of neuroscience and psychology at Indiana University in an interview during the year 2014.
Stress alters the chemical and physical structure of the brain, decreasing cognitive abilities such as attention, concentration, memory, and creativity.
Because of schools being closed due to pandemic, students had lost this structure and routine of their day to day activities. Many were sent home with packets of assignments to complete with no periodical schedule.
Impacts on students’ mental wellness:
Research shows that, mental health is directly proportional to academic achievement. Increased social media use and transitional shift of education to digital platforms have led to the majority of students spending more time in front of screens.
Excessive screen usage is linked to poor sleep, sedentary behavior, mental and physical difficulties, and vision problems.
Because of continuous online education, students get easily distracted by more desirable options like online video streaming apps, video games, social media apps, etc
What could be done to bridge this academic and mental wellness gap?
Its high time several strategies need to be adopted by schools to focus on student-centered wellness activities.
Following illustrates the typical model to bridge this gap:
PRP – Be Prepared to Repair & Get repaired to Prepare
Knowing the impact of COVID-19, teachers need to be well trained and they must be mentally prepared to repair the mindset of students and bring them back to their normal form. This repair mechanism, in turn, would assist children in developing a strong optimistic outlook for the future.
Role of Teachers & Parents in PRP
How can teachers & parents help students recover and stay on track throughout the year?
Strategies to prioritize both at School & Home when school reopens:
- Valuing relationships of students by insisting with the care that “ Your wellness is our wellness”
- Establishing a safe & supportive learning environment
- Gauging what and how much extra support would be required for each student to fill in the existing gap
- Deciding on various & customized levels of instructions
- Implementing a peer learning system
- Devising strategies to improve resilience in students’ minds
- Facilitating physical activities instead of excess screen time
- Providing mentoring support
- Encouraging social interactions
- Encouraging extracurricular activities
- Ensuring enough sleep
- Providing all enriching & nourishing foods
- Giving them micro planners for daily routines
Sensing them with a good dose of caution on do’s & don’ts and skepticism
Extending the hands of both parents and teachers with additional care and concern packed with a focused objective and on-time extra efforts would certainly help students get recovered from the impacts of COVID-19.