This Children's Day, Let's Be More Sensitive To Challenges Young Learners Continue To Face

 - Sakshi Post

Our education system is not fully equipped to address the diverse psychological needs of students is obvious but the pandemic has further stressed young minds. First young learners had to adapt to extended school closures, then to an online model of education and now they are expected to come back to school and start studying without missing a beat.

Rajesh Bhatia, educationist and the man behind TreeHouse chain of play schools says, “Never before in history have children adapted to so many different changes around them. Many of them have lost loved ones to the pandemic. Some have dealt with the virus first hand. Many others have struggled to keep up with the online modules or  battled anxiety and stress over exam results and their future. We cannot just expect them to bounce back as if nothing has happened.”

On Children's Day, he says, let us put children first and be sensitive to not just  their academic but also psychological needs. As he says, “Kids must never be made to think that only their results matter. It is also important that they are made to feel safe, protected and valued be it in school or at home. They need to know that their emotions and fears are valid. We must give them time to adapt once again to brick and mortar learning spaces and those who are struggling with the idea, must get all possible support at home and at schools.”

Schools, he says, will have to think of new ways of creating a sense of community now that social distancing and masks are compulsory. Safety measures will have to be imposed in fun and imaginative ways rather than through spreading fear and anxiety, adds Rajesh. Parents, teachers and counsellors, he says, will have to  address questions and doubts with empathy and patience through this difficult time.  

He adds, “Children should never be taught to suppress anger, fear or anxiety but instead be guided to express them in healthy ways. This pandemic is an opportunity to  redefine how we teach our children and to learn to be better educators.

Not emphasising excessively on marks, focusing on creative activities, music, art, to channel negative emotions will really help children to be better students, believes Rajesh.  

He adds, "Children need both structure and flexibility at this time and we must allow them to re adjust to a new routine. If they are worried about catching a virus,  teachers and counsellors must reassure them. Children model their behaviour on what the adults around them are doing and so it is absolutely imperative that parents and teachers stay calm and optimistic."  

As Rajesh puts it, “As adults, we may have our own set of worries but we need not add them to the anxieties of our children. Our job is to create a safe space for them to learn and to grow in and that is what we must do as  educators and parents.”

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