What are the academic and emotional impacts of COVID on children?

Team Esteem is bridging the gap between school and home and would like to shed light on COVID-19 and the impact of online learning. We surveyed teachers from all grade levels, public and private.

What was the biggest behavioral struggle during online learning?

The takeaway is we learn more easily when we feel a connection - whether it’s to the material or the person teaching it.

Almost 70% of teachers indicated that their biggest struggle during online learning was keeping students engaged and driving participation

Due to the lack of human interaction on a daily basis, people are feeling lost and less needed by others. This pandemic has taken a toll on one of our basic human needs:

The need to feel like we belong to something bigger and part of a community

Children and teachers are having a difficult time connecting in this new environment. It’s affecting the motivation behind learning.

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs

According to Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs, these five categories dictate human behavior. Going to school and being in a physical space with people we saw every day is now an unknown, fragmented virtual space; making it harder to achieve with greater meaning.

From a teacher's viewpoint:

"I wholeheartedly believe that online materials should supplement traditional schooling, not replace it. Humans need connection and this situation has been the complete opposite of that. I am not a highly emotional individual (I'm actually an introvert) and I have had a very difficult time with this in the sense that I miss explaining things to students, teaching them to think, and just plain being angry or laughing with them. I teach 12 and 14-year-olds. They are NOT easy. They bring me lots of torment at times, but they also turn around and make me proud and bring me joy. I don't get the same feeling sitting in front of a computer."

What is the academic impact?

Talking to a screen as opposed to in-person was a new form of leading the classroom. The newness of it all was confusing. As a community, we experienced technical difficulties. Teachers had to deal with students having their own at-home distractions and not having the ability to control the environment. Teachers, suddenly, had to master speaking on screen and be more expressive and engaging.

But what’s on the other end?

Students that were very engaged in the classroom were no longer participating online, shy students experiencing awkwardness and discomfort when speaking up on camera, and in some cases, students not showing up at all. There was also an increase in cheating and teachers having to manage that.

What is the emotional impact?

Teachers found it more difficult to cultivate relationships with students. They were yearning to have their classrooms back to the way they were.

They expressed missing face-to-face interactions, laughter, and even frustrating and angry moments. With 25 faces in a virtual whole-group setting, it simply doesn’t leave room for personal sidebar conversations. It’s important to note that for a child with attention issues, the one-on-one interactions are some of the most intimate and positive learning moments throughout the school day.

Tips/Resources for Parents

We recognize it was difficult for parents because they have their own frustrations and new challenges with remote work. Thinking about how our children are feeling during this awkward learning time is often overlooked. While we may not have the answers now, it’s important to strongly consider what is emotionally healthy and needed for our children.

To open the lines of communication with your children about online learning, here are some conversation starters:

  • How did you feel about online learning?

  • How does online learning compare to in-classroom learning?

  • Did you feel more/less comfortable participating?

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