As we end this school year, many of us are preparing for what the state of next year’s students might be. They have experienced anything from death of a parent or family member to loss of learning and maybe their own despair due to the effects of COVID-19. We believe schools will be overwhelmed with a significant number of needs based on what has happened to students in this past school year.
In a recent article on the Edutopia website, Carolyn Curtis discussed what we anticipate and what we can do to help them recover, cope and heal. Here are some excerpts from her article:
As students return to the classroom after over a year of remote and hybrid learning, loss and trauma are ongoing themes. As many as 43,000 children have lost a parent to Covid-19. Lockdowns and quarantine meant social isolation, which has resulted in increases in depression and anxiety in children and adolescents. Moreover, since schools can be a stabilizing force in many children’s lives, switching from in-person to remote to in-person again can add stress.
These unresolved traumas can affect memory and concentration, putting students at risk for lowered levels of academic performance. Teachers—many traumatized themselves—are on high alert for students who show signs of trauma, like difficulty sitting still, irritability, emotional volatility, and difficulty regulating their emotions, plus withdrawal, avoidance, and constant fatigue.
In the face of widespread trauma, strategies rooted in emotional regulation, self-growth, and relationship building can help students heal from stress and loss.
She continues the article to suggest more specifically some strategies for how emotional regulation, relationships and growth steps can help students deal with the chronic stress and consequences of what has happened to them during this pandemic.
Without some of these strategies we as educators and those who deal with the needs of students may be rather surprised that trying to normalize our schools and communities after COVID-19 may be far more difficult than we anticipated. Being intentional to proactively deal with what our students are experiencing will be an important set of interventions that will hopefully make this transition back to normal a bit easier and far more successful. As we plan for next school year, perhaps these are some thoughts that we can consider in our schools.
Lakeside does offer training for teachers and students called Neurologic as one way to help with this transition. Visit www.lakesidelink.com for more information. I hope all educators will be looking for ways to help their students transition and cope with the impact of a very difficult set of experiences.