Outline: This blog post discusses the important topic of children’s mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic and the impact of the lack of access to education during the school closures.
Key words: Student Success; Learning Outcomes; Mental Health; Psychological Impacts; Online Learning; Summer School
Author: Anastasia Moskvitina

What could happen to children psychologically or mentally when they are away from schools for many months?

As a child’s young mind develops, education is a key factor in the formation of good habits, intelligence and discipline. We send our children to school to teach them the skills necessary for success in all areas of life. From basic skills such as reading, math and problem solving to the intricacies of science and literature, a wholesome education plays a key role in our children’s futures. The chance to gain knowledge in a wide variety of subjects helps kids understand the world around them creates the opportunity to explore ambitions and dreams and set life goals. As education progresses, children build on their skills and develop talents that direct their energy and attention in positive, constructive ways. Whether your child is interested in science, technology, literature, history or sports, it is every parent’s responsibility to make these areas of learning accessible.

As education grinds to a halt in the current public health crisis, what will happen to the “class of COVID-19” now and in the future? The government’s orders to stay at home and learn from home may seem like a long vacation for kids with a lot of free time, but the reality is that kids who stop their studies now will fall behind in many ways.

The unprecedented measures to contain the spread of the virus is disrupting every aspect of children’s wellbeing including development, learning, mental health and protection from negative influence. Younger children are at even higher risk as they struggle to wrap their minds around the facts of the pandemic and the new rules everybody has to follow in their daily lives. High levels of stress and isolation have been proven to affect brain development, sometimes with permanent long-term consequences. Parents are left confused about how to address their children’s fears, and how to explain the new rules and containment practices.

The psychological effects of COVID-19 on children has been documented by many experts throughout the pandemic. Children’s Mental Health Ontario has released statistics that show 59% of parents have noticed behavioural changed in their children including outbursts, extreme irritability, drastic changes in mood, difficulty sleeping and persistent sadness. One quarter of parents reported that their child felt sad or hopeless almost every day for a couple of weeks or more. These negative changes in children and their families are directly related to a lack of education being provided during these challenging times. Children have lost all the routine, structure and schedule of attending classes. Equally important, they have lost interaction with their teachers, friends and mentors. With such a lack of a support system it is not surprising that kids are having a difficult time understanding and coping with the current situation.

As a result children are forming negative habits that are destructive to their learning abilities. Since COVID-19, children have increased their time playing video games by 52%. Without regularly scheduled classes children are staying up late and sleeping in on a daily basis. Many families are giving up healthy eating habits as they are stuck in isolation with limited options for activities. Physical health is also on the decline with no access to public areas and restrictions on behaviour when going outside. All of this is worsened by the psychological fear of the virus, contracting it and spreading it to loved ones, leaving many kids afraid to leave the house and making it difficult to stimulate their developing minds.

The public school system has attempted to react to school closures with methods that unfortunately do not meet children’s growing needs. Assignments of 5-10 hours of Google classroom work per week cannot be a substitute for face-to-face learning 8 hours a day. There is also little to no communication directly with teachers and very limited explanation and feedback for assigned work. With such a limited level of access to education it will be very difficult for children to proceed to the next grade, and equally difficult for graduating high school students to attend university.

Elementary and high school students have already lost hundreds of hours of class time. RICOS offers a place for your child to recover from their loss of education and overcome some of the mental health challenges facing our students. The Summer Recovery Program is an eight week comprehensive approach to your child’s education. We conduct a full day of virtual face-to-face instruction in a classroom setting with experienced teachers. We keep our class sizes small to make sure every student gets the attention they require and stays motivated and engaged. Our programs have proven methods of success that will increase your child’s overall grades and improve their knowledge of key subjects. We remain very mindful of the impact of the current pandemic on our students’ mental health, and it is our goal to bring students together in a community that can support one another while remaining on track with education requirements.

Enough time has already passed without proper access to school and we do not know what the future will hold for conventional schools. RICOS combines the available online education tools with the latest technology to create a hybrid learning environment where your child will thrive. Our teachers pay close attention to every student’s individual needs and offer private counselling to support our students in their learning journey.

Our responsibility as parents during COVID-19 is to create an environment for our children where they can retain as much of their sense of normalcy as possible. With RICOS programs your child will be prepared for the next school year, whether that means entering high school or gaining university acceptance. Sign up for a free trial and let us show you how we can help make these difficult times easier for your child and your family.

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