Published: 02nd September 2021
Why some kids are scared to get back to physical classes after classes from bedrooms
But there is also the fact that students are bored, and they want to get back to their daily routine. They are missing out on so much socialisation
There are mixed responses from stakeholders on whether to open schools or stick to online. Kids are used to waking up late and sitting for online classes without even brushing their teeth. They can turn off the camera whenever they want. There is also a huge learning gap right now. Now when schools open and tests are taken, kids are scared to write them without prompting. Parents themselves provide clues during online exams sometimes, and older students use Google or other tools to help with tests. Students are very anxious to go to school thinking that they have not done any home assignments, how teachers would be reacting to behaviours like not switching on the cameras or not following teachers during an online class. Recently, I got a case of functional pain (psychological stomach pain) from a student since her school has declared that they are opening for Classes IX and X.
But there is also the fact that students are bored, and they want to get back to their daily routine. They are missing out on so much socialisation. They are missing out on the gossip that happens with the learning, and among students, that is also extremely healthy. Parents are in two minds too, but they are also worried about the learning gap and the increased screentime for the kids. They often watch Youtube videos or play games during the “official” class hours, and then ask for extra screen time for entertainment because there is nothing else to do. The parents are in favour of kids getting back to their routine.
For the teachers, behaviour modification was difficult even with physical classes. Virtual classes have taken the challenge to the next level — teachers have no control over the situation. Kids can switch off the camera at any time. Teachers want schools to reopen and learning should happen on physical premises. They have better control that way. They cannot gauge how much the child is learning without physical classes. Teachers are also parents. They are not able to give the same kind of attention to their own kids with online classes. Teachers must recap the previous curriculum. The curriculum is a mixed format. About 40 per cent of it is ornamental, and the remaining 60 per cent is key. They must recap the key concepts at least. Remedial sessions should be conducted to help students get used to independent learning again. Kids are dependent on Google or parents for answers. More instructional hours are required. Teachers have to go to the next level of patience. It is a tricky situation now. Kids might be frustrated. They can't have the same expectations of behaviour from where they left off.
Kids with learning difficulties were probably the first hit of the pandemic. Parents are not professionals; they often don’t know how to work with and teach these kids. Very few schools have maintained special education teachers, counsellors, and remedial therapists once the lockdowns were imposed.
I definitely feel schools must reopen. We are losing a lot in the fear of the next wave. Social communication, humanity, the tolerance that we learn simply by being with each other, and learning that happens in physical premises were all huge losses because of the pandemic.
The author, Dr Pooja Jha Nair, is a Child Psychologist based out of Hyderabad