Why Just Getting Students Back into Classrooms Is Not Enough
. . . We Need to Inspire Them Too
Critical parents have been saying lots of things about their sons and daughters who have been attending classes at home during the Covid-19 pandemic. They’re bored. They’re unmotivated. They’re frightened. They’re angry.
And let’s face it. They have every right to be every one of those things. Wouldn’t you be too, if you were young and your entire world became unfamiliar and frightening? Wouldn’t your belief that the world is an inherently good place have been shaken? We believe it would have, and that you would be entirely justified in feeling pessimistic.
A Generation of Alvy Singers
In an early scene in the movie Annie Hall, a grade school student named Alvy Singer has stopped doing his homework. His mother calls in a psychiatrist named Dr. Flicker.
But of course, Alvy had realized that Brooklyn really was expanding. And that was part of his existential crisis. Are your children experiencing something like that today?
What Are Parents to Do?
Part of the challenge for parents is that it is no longer possible to reassure our kids by making the following statements, which many of us have relied on in the past. We can no longer say:
- “Everything will get back to normal,” because that is not true.
- “This is a temporary state of affairs,” because it might not be.
- “There is no reason to be afraid,” because there are so many.
So what are you, as a parent supposed to do?
It is hard for the editors of this blog to offer specific advice, because of course we are outsiders and do not know what kind of relationship you have had with your child or children. We can only provide some very rough suggestions, which you can either consider or reject.
- You could be physically affectionate with your child if that has been part of your relationship. Doing so could just support you emotionally too.
- You could offer a lot of encouragement and praise, because saying “I am proud of you” is a statement that can carry special significance at a time when young students might not feel they have accomplished very much.
- You could turn up the focus on your family’s spiritual beliefs and practices, if that is something you think has helped your student feel supported in the past.
- You could encourage your student to widen and reconsider career plans and interests in the wake of the pandemic, because he or she might have learned new things or developed new interests that will lead to larger fields of endeavor and new ambitions.
- You could become more enthusiastically involved in the process of selecting colleges, because focusing on a bright future could help right now.
- You could encourage your kids to talk with optimistic people you know – your business contacts, clergy members, older relatives – because young people are sometimes open to ideas that do not come from their parents.
- You could make sure your kids are communicating with their best friends who will be returning to school along with them, because support from peers counts for a lot.
A Further Resource
Check out, “Helping Children Cope with Changes Resulting from COVID-19,” an article published online by the National Association of School Psychologists. It’s rich with additional suggestions for helping students do well while they are returning to school.
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