Time is ticking…. Nobody wants to make the wrong choice, putting students, families and teachers at risk. But, fear is the new pandemic, and it’s getting in the way of logical thinking about whether to send kids back to school.
As a psychiatrist and parenting expert who treats children and families, I’ve seen the impact of lock downs and zoom-learning first-hand. And it’s bad. Here are 10 reasons why kids should go back to school—in person—now.
1-Ever since schools closed because of COVID-19, most kids have lost their enthusiasm for learning. Some kids, teachers and parents have convinced themselves that there’s still learning going on, simply for everyone to feel better.
2-Indeed, many kids stopped tuning into their zoom classes, and “dropped out” to spend time sleeping, watching TV or playing video games instead. But, they were given passing marks anyway and promoted to the next grade, leaving a large hole in the foundation of their education.
3-Distance-learning is discriminatory. Kids from less affluent or rural homes, foster or group homes and similar situations, have little or no access to computers. Inevitably, this makes them fall behind kids who have better access to online classes.
4-Even the most well-meaning parents are not professional teachers. They can teach their kids some school subjects and life-skills, but many do not know the best way to teach algebra or chemistry, for example. If anyone could teach, teachers wouldn’t have to get degrees, student-teach and pass licensing exams.
5-Many families have been doing a valiant job, trying to cope with having their kids home from school – keeping them from squabbling with each other or getting into trouble, and trying to help them do their homework, but patience has run out. They can’t hang in there for another semester.
6-Being locked up together for months, strains the love of any couple. The stress of being both parent and teacher to their kids, while trying to maintain a healthy marital relationship, has caused many parents to argue with each other, and some have already filed for divorce, scarring kids even further.
7-Parents are struggling with their own issues – from finances to food, and from working at home to worrying about their own parents’ health. This strain is even causing some loving parents to take out their frustrations on their kids – leading to child abuse. Teachers and counselors routinely spot kids who are suffering from child abuse or other problems – and get them help. Without these extra eyes, some kids are in danger.
8-The longer kids are out of school, the more time they have to get into trouble because of boredom and frustration. The more time they spend on social media, the more likely they’ll be bullied or become depressed or jealous over the seemingly perfect lives of other kids. And the more time they spend on violent entertainment, the more aggressive they can become.
9-Kids are not only missing out on a better education, they’re missing opportunities for socialization. Even with masks and social-distancing, they can learn how to get along with others, how to share and how to become leaders. In fact, the pandemic’s unique circumstances can help them develop empathy and compassion for one another.
10-Studies, statistics, and recommendations of reliable organizations overwhelmingly support a return to school. The American Academy of Pediatrics and the CDC have issued guidelines to encourage families to send their kids back to school. Some European schools have already opened with encouraging results. And did you know, far more children under the age of 15 die from the flu? Yet we don’t close schools during flu season.
It’s not only coronavirus that can have a detrimental impact on a family’s life – it’s poverty from job loss and a crumbling economy, child abuse and domestic abuse from frustrated parents who have reached their breaking point, drug and alcohol abuse, anxiety, depression, PTSD, and ultimately even suicide. The longer kids are made to stay home from school – the more these problems will grow.
The answer? Teach kids the facts-of-life for remaining healthy by strengthening their resilience and immunity through: hand-washing, nutritious food, vitamins, sleep, exercise, nature, social support and laughter. These lessons will last them their whole life and keep them safer from any illness – not just COVID-19.