We keep wondering what academic learning will be like when schools reopen, but there’s something even more important that needs our attention: our children’s mental health.
Life in lock down has had all sorts of emotional effects on parents and children alike. The isolation has affected our children’s behavior, mood, and well-being.
While some have found that their kids are happier with a slower schedule, kids are also struggling mentally. Some are more anxious. Some are more fearful.
Those struggles come, in big part, from a lack of interaction with their friends and extended family. Our children miss going to the playground. They miss, simply, being with their friends.
The importance of mental health in a child’s development
Yes, academic learning is important. Yes “catching up” on schoolwork is important… but mental health is just as important too, and it needs to be a part of the “curriculum” in some form when schools reopen.
After all, as the research shows, mental well-being plays a huge role in the development of our kids. When kids learn how to build relationships with people outside their family — such as with teachers and peers — they’re building social skills that will serve them long after school is over.
If kids don’t have a chance to work on these skills and are forced to sit behind a desk for hours upon hours each day, they risk feeling even more anxious, isolated, and fearful about life outside.
School isn’t just for learning history lessons and how to do arithmetic. It’s about developing socio-emotional skills too. It’s about learning to interact with others, and in turn, building confidence.
We don’t know what school will look like when it reopens. But right now, more than ever, we need to prioritize our kid’s mental health.
We need to let them play, to socialize, to explore, and be kids. Assessments and tests have their place, but right now, once school is back in session, let’s allow our kids to play with their friends.
Developing social skills are just as important as academics.
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