Emotional needs must be met in COVID-19.

Since the pandemic began, school districts have been doing their best to navigate our new normal.  Teachers and staff have trained to administer instruction through various online platforms. Our primary concerns concern remains: how do we keep our children academically up to date? How do we maintain their rigorous course load with remote learning? Now that schools have been closed for months, districts are beginning to feel the pressure from parents and the government, to open in the fall. The push is so students can once again experience the academic and social benefits of in-person learning. Hover, after reviewing many of the CDC and the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education’s (DESE) guidelines for returning to school, rushing to get students back into the classroom does not seem like the best move. In light of this, how can parents meet the emotional needs of their children during COVID-19?

A Need for a Better Remote Learning Model

Currently, the CDC offers several recommendations for when children go back to school, including:

  • Student desks should remain six feet apart
  • Students and faculty should wear face coverings.
  • Students should stay in one classroom all-day
  • Limit the sharing of objects (including toys for interactive play)
  • Remain six feet apart during recess with fewer peers
  • Schools should cancel all field trips and prohibit outside visitors

This will ultimately cause more harm than good. It will also increase the stress and anxiety levels of our children. Not only will students need to adjust to the new physical features of their classroom, but they will also still have the pressures of academics and testing.

What we need to do is focus on creating a more robust, interactive, and engaging remote learning model so instruction does not fall to the wayside and children will not be in a constantly agitated state. Families can then determine if and when their child needs in-person interaction based on their specific needs or health.

Ways to Stay Engaged

There are many ways that we can nurture the social/emotional well being of our children without being in the classroom. The state of the upcoming school year is still uncertain. Here are some low-risk activities that you can do with your child now. Keep them engaged with their peers and nurture their emotional well-being.

  • Visit a playground (bring masks, alcohol wipes, and hand sanitizer!)
  • Schedule a socially distant playdate with a family matching your family’s risk-level
  • Host a Zoom game night
  • Go to the beach or a park (in some states, this is not always a safe choice, so use discretion here about where you’re able to distance)
  • Create a sensory bin or do an arts and crafts project (here are some ideas)
  • Ride a bike or take a long walk (Search alltrails.com to find hiking trails near you)
  • Watch a movie (Disney & Pixar’s Inside Out is a great film that addresses the different emotions of children in a developmentally appropriate way)
  • Start a gratitude journal or diary
  • Read a book (here is a great resource to find read-alouds that address different emotions for your child)
  • Take a virtual museum tour
  • Start a letter-writing project and seek out penpals across the globe

For more suggestions, visit our post on Remote Learning and Staying Connected with Friends.