After several months without physically going to school, it is expected that in September, all the children will return to the classrooms. What will this return to school be like? How will it affect the children emotionally?
These days, the government and the autonomous communities are debating what normal schooling will be like as of September. Although, at first, the possibility of following a mixed, face-to-face / online system was considered, there is more and more talk about all students returning to face-to-face classes. Lower the ratio, separate the children in turns, set up new classrooms in common spaces, recess time for separate classes, etc. There are many proposals for this new school reality that will start in September.
After several months of confinement and a summer in which hygienic measures and social distancing will set the tone, how can this return to the classroom affect children, on an emotional level? What steps can be taken to help them make a healthy transition to their new reality?
DELICATE EMOTIONAL STATE
After several months of confinement, the emotional situation of the children is especially delicate. If to this we add the additional stress of the special precautions that we must still maintain and the protection measures that must be followed at school, it is understandable that many children go back to school immersed in a mixture of emotions that is very difficult to assimilate.
Upon returning to the classroom, different emotional realities will appear marked by the special characteristics of each child. Some may present one, several, or no focus of concern. Of course, not all children will have a bad time, the capacity for adaptation and resilience of each one will mark their own acclimatization to school.
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Some of the circumstances that can create emotional distress in children may be:
- Fear of contagion. For several months, they have been hearing that going outside or meeting in closed spaces with many people increases the risk of contagion. It is normal for many students to experience fear at the idea of going back to school.
- Not wanting to go back. Those who already had a hard time at school before confinement, either due to bullying or being bored in class, have proven the benefits of distance education. They will live September as a return to hell, to all that they fear and / or hate.
- Difficulty maintaining social distance. Those who feel the illusion of seeing their colleagues again will run into the wall of all prevention measures (social distance or masks).
They will be with their friends, but they will not be able to share or play the same as before.
- Tension. The little ones do not have the understanding or self-control to keep their distance and will come to play with their friends, as before. There is a danger that early childhood education teachers, given their enormous responsibility for a possible contagion, will show themselves more directives and this will generate more tension and repression in the classrooms.
- Detachment. As in the rest of the daily situations, the relationship between the teachers and the children will be at a distance. This physical separation will complicate the work of caregivers to attend and emotionally accompany the little ones when they require it. With children separated by masks, space between them and the teacher much further away, the classroom environment can be much colder and more distant than it was before. Maintaining this situation of lack of social contact for so many hours a day can end up taking a toll on some children.
WHAT TO DO TO SOFTEN THE EMOTIONAL IMPACT ON CHILDREN
In this new school situation, emotional attention to students must become the highest priority for teachers and caregivers. The younger the students, the more diligent their teachers will have to show themselves. In these days when the syllabi for the new course are being prepared, it would be interesting for all the centers to implement measures for the care and protection of the emotional health of girls and boys. Some may be the following:
- Promote fun and interactive games and activities
Although it is necessary to maintain a safe distance, it is always possible to organize in small groups (in class or at recess) fun, creative games that are entertaining for children and that make them feel, despite the separation space, the contact with your colleagues. It is important that these games are cooperative, not competitive.
We want to create a good environment among children. For example, a game can be, create your own story or story. In turn, each child adds a phrase to the story, the more crazy and absurd the better.
- Take advantage of open spaces
Whenever possible, it is important that children leave the classroom seclusion and enjoy free spaces. Many subjects can be explained and practiced outdoors. Teachers, faced with this new situation, can use their creativity to adapt their subject to the new situation.
- Promote artistic teachings in freedom
Art releases emotions, tensions and experiences trapped within us. Without academic standards, without rules, we can offer children blank papers and drawing or modeling materials. These creations must be free, without cards, without models, without gaps to fill that help children to get all their accumulated emotions.