TOThe UK crossover schools are again preparing for a gradual or full return of pupils to the classroom. Most weary parents, compassionate teachers, and lonely children will be delighted to see this day arrive, but concerns remain about the effect prolonged school closings have had on our children and youth.
Much of the discussion has focused on how to help students “catch up” on their “missing learning.” This narrative is deeply useless and potentially harmful, due to the psychological pressure placed in children and young people. It is our national obsession with summative assessment that makes children feel like they have been “left behind” if they have not learned certain things at certain times. But in each year group, students are at different stages of cognitive, physical, and emotional development. There is no such thing as “behind”, it only exists where the children are. Also, if we truly believe that everyone can be a lifelong learner, a few months of parents struggling to teach phonics is a small leap in their educational journey.
When I recently read of measures in planning To help children make up for lost school time through extended school days, tutoring, and summer schools, my first instinct was that we should do the exact opposite. Reference has been made to pre-Covid research from the US in support of the extension of school days, but studies have not provided evidence of positive impact on achievement. Research by the Education Endowment Foundation has highlighted limited evidence of small group tutoring benefiting students who are “falling behind” and some small benefits of summer schools.
Whether the small advances seen in these studies could be replicated on a larger scale after a pandemic has yet to be tested and is open to debate. Given limited time and resources, rather than expecting a slight boost in standardized achievement scores, educators and the government should focus on addressing the immediate impact of the crisis, with a view to which interventions will help children the most in the long run. term.
Emotional well-being is critical and critical to academic achievement. A stressed and anxious child will have a hard time learning something. On the other hand, promoting wellness can boost academic results. A meta-analysis of 213 school-based social and emotional learning programs demonstrated a 11% increase in results on standardized achievement tests.
The impact of confinement on the mental health and well-being of children and adolescents is clear from the research on previous school closings, within the health service, and in our own experience as parents. Social isolation has exacerbated pre-existing disadvantage and vulnerability. It is vital that long-term planning includes improving the availability and accessibility of therapeutic support for those in need. Right now, we need emotionally regulate before educating.
However, while there is clearly cause for concern, fatalistic speech it can backfire and prevent schools and government from fully committing to supporting young people. Our children are much more than the pandemic they have lived through. They should not be pathologized because they show normal reactions to abnormal events. It is important to keep hope for our young people and help them to have hope. In short, if our children are told that they are the “Covid generation”, helpless victims in a “tsunami” of mental illness, at some point they will believe it. Alternatively, if we assure them that “it is very difficult, but it will pass, everything will be fine”, they may believe it instead.
Most students will not need counseling after lockdown. They will benefit from getting back to school structure, stability, predictable routine, and clear expectations. And then they will need space to play. At all ages and stages, play is essential. My daughter needs pretend play with other three-year-olds, and teens need their sports clubs, societies, and parties. There are growing evidence long-term negative impacts of gambling deprivation. That is because the gaming experience enhances children’s social, emotional, physical, and creative skills, while supporting early literacy development and numeracy skills in an integrated way. If we really want to drive long-term academic achievement, then we must allow children to reconnect and play together again. A summer of play should be part of that process.
The psychiatrist Bruce Perry writes thatSince human beings are inescapable social beings, the worst catastrophes we can experience are those that involve relational loss. Therefore, recovery must involve the reestablishment of human connections. Perry suggests that the most important healing experiences often occur outside of therapy and within homes, communities, and schools. TO “recovery curriculumYou can help in this regard by supporting a relationship-based approach to teaching and learning after blocking.
Ultimately, we must trust and respect school leaders and staff in supporting our children when they return to class, as well as providing adequate resources. Many teachers are on the brink of burnout and need support for their own well-being. They are in the best position to identify and close any gaps in knowledge. But before we “catch up” on learning, let the students catch up with each other and with the staff. Resilience resides in these relationships.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism