For a huge number of the population, their way of working has changed forever. Many enjoy a permanently improved work-life balance; some still feel isolated from their colleagues, while others are now feeling pressure to return to offices despite increasing rates of the virus. It is tumultuous and hard to navigate, so how then do children, who thrive on routine and rely on adults for their stability, react to this unprecedented and seemingly endless disruption?
For my first reporting assignment, as we head towards the final months of 2021, I will be reviewing the challenges the pandemic continues to present to those trying to ensure that the UK’s children receive a consistent level of schooling. I will talk to professionals working in different areas of education to understand the extent of the pandemic’s impact on our kids and how we can still help them thrive in these uncertain times.
COVID-19 impact on children’s education in the early years
In November, I will meet with two nursery workers to discuss the COVID-19 impact on children’s education in the early years. A time when they learn to settle into a routine fundamental to successful future school life and experience their first invaluable opportunities for socialisation. That huge milestone has been lost to countless pre-schoolers cocooned at home for long periods since the pandemic.
Even when nurseries began to re-open, stricter rules were in place, meaning a reduction in some valuable aspects of play. Toys that were not wipe-clean had to be locked away, and sanitation became paramount. I will report on how nurseries adapted to these changes and what they have been doing to help our youngest children develop appropriately.
COVID-19 impact on children’s education and mental health
For December, I will talk to occupational therapist Grace Hershey to discuss the ever-increasing demand for children’s mental health services. Grace specialises in children with eating disorders and other mental conditions and helps them get the help they need. During the pandemic, she has seen an increased number of young people come through her doors, partly due to the lack of opportunities for socialisation. We will discuss why this affects pupils and what steps are being taken to help combat their conditions.
COVID-19 effects on classroom teaching
January’s report will discuss the impact of these everchanging times on a young teacher. Having graduated during the pandemic, Alice Stanier has been thrust headfirst into these crazy times. I will talk to her about what it has been like to navigate the world of remote teaching and keep your pupils engrossed in the school day. Undoubtedly, encouraging children to read the materials and stay focused on a text is more challenging by not being present in the same room.
Our blog readers will be familiar with how we regularly promote reading as essential to children’s classroom learning, so they won’t be surprised that we are keen to uncover the effects of school closures on classroom reading time. Alice and I will also discuss how well children work from home without the requisite equipment or when they have other challenges. Children with specific needs can easily fly under the radar if not watched closely in class, let alone from behind a screen. We will chat about how Alice supports these pupils to ensure they aren’t left behind.
COVID-19 effects on teenagers
February will be the final in our COVID-19 series, and I will talk to Professor Barry Carpenter, the UK’s first professor of mental health in education. During lockdown, Barry turned his attention to assessing how the pandemic is influencing young people. He collaborated with his son Matthew, the principal of Baxter College in Worcestershire, to create what they call ‘the recovery curriculum’. This tool provides navigation for teachers and parents to guide them through a world that has changed out of recognition and help adolescents understand how their lives fit into this new social norm.
Barry talks about how students deal with the loss of structure in education and how this negatively affects their concentration. For a typical teenager, the idea of being with their parents for 24 hours a day is somewhat horrifying! They need time away from home to experience the world for themselves and ultimately discover who they are. Barry and I will discuss support for older children as they mature under the constraints of COVID.
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