Anxiety and adjustment

Schools grapple with children’s socio-emotional loss after reopening

June 17, 2022
-Reshma Ravishanker

Three weeks into school reopening, school managements across the country are reporting that children’s socio-emotional loss is greater than learning gaps. As preschool-class X children return to in-person on-campus classes after 82-weeks closure because of the Covid-19 pandemic, principals and teachers report that children are experiencing social anxiety with most unable to adjust to the school routine. In particular, primary school children are suffering stress and anxiety about attending school.

Rohan Bhat, chairman, Children’s Academy Group of Schools, Mumbai says that he has noticed that “children are very fidgety and anxious”. “Class I and II children just don’t want to step into school and have to coaxed by parents. Many of them are also not even toilet trained,” he says.

Bhat believes that developing children’s socialization and socio-emotional skills will be far more difficult than addressing gaps in learning. “Our teachers are patiently building children’s social skills and addressing socio-emotional problems to help them to adjust to the physical school routine. To address learning gaps we did an assessment of students and are implementing a plan to bridge them. We are also training teachers to enable them to witch smoothly from online and offline teaching,” he adds.

Renuka Nair, director, Fun N Learn, a preschool Bengaluru, says that two years of schools closure has made it very difficult for children to adjust to in-person classes. “Youngest children are anxious and insecure about attending school. There’s also an indiscipline problem. What used take us typically three days to settle children in school is now us taking weeks. During the pandemic closure, children got used to the comfort of their homes and were unconditionally and pampered by parents. It will take time for children to adjust to the physical routine and develop inter-personal skills,” she says.

Meanwhile, in Hyderabad, where schools have reopened week ago, educators are yet to notice any marked behavioral changes in children. “I differ that there are anxiety issues among children. In fact, after two years of closure, children are more enthusiastic than usual – to describe in one word they are high-energy,” says Dr Chandrashekar DP, CEO, Jain Group of Schools, Hyderabad.

However, he believes that it could be too early to make an assessment. “But I must concede that children are just back to school and are excited about new books, stationery and new friends. Once this initial enthusiasm wanes, they will be socio-emotional challenges. Hence, we have asked our school counselors to observe and monitor children’s behavior carefully,” says Dr Chandrashekar. 

Also read: Preparing children for school reopening

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