Preparing Children to Return to School Part 3– An Intellectual Approach
Over the past few months, we have been inundated with information that seems to change almost daily, making it hard to resolve what should and should not be done. Everyone has their thoughts and feelings about the challenges ahead, especially regarding starting school. And while there will be no one answer that satisfies everyone in the short term, we must remember that children will return to some form of school, either online or brick and mortar, so it is essential that we prepare them intellectually for what lies ahead to counteract any learning loss they’ve already experienced.
As it happens during the summer each year, it is not surprising that many children have experienced some degree of learning loss which has been amplified by the “COVID slide.” The abrupt switch to online learning disrupted the ability to focus for a lot of children, and a lack of resources at home caused even more achievement gaps for many others. As we approach a new school year, students will return to some type of classroom, virtual or live, and most will need extra support to get back to grade-level work. However, schools must avoid having students “cognitive cram” since this will lead to more stress and anxiety. This counterproductive approach to remediation can be even more detrimental to children’s ability to learn and retain information.
Instead, it might be prudent for schools to offer a different approach by providing a more disciplined approach to ease children back into learning mode. More positive neural connections will be made by advancing this way, which will lead to better retention of learned material. Making learning fun will get the brain warmed up and primed for learning. This will be key in getting children back to their current grade level. And yes, this is a big undertaking for teachers and parents, so they will need access to community resources to help students succeed. A collaboration with youth services and enrichment activities will increase the chances of children recovering their learning loss at a quicker rate.
At Gentle East, or program for 3 and 4 years olds is a progressive child development method that uses cutting-edge brain training to help make the neural connections necessary to gear up the brain for learning. We will start incorporating some of those principles into class for students between the ages of 5 and 18 as a preventative approach to mitigate any additional learning loss their child may experience during the last weeks of summer. Additionally, while the classes will help students strengthen neural connections, they will also release dopamine , oxytocin, serotonin , and endorphins. These positive brain chemicals help alleviate anxiety and depression and give children a more optimistic approach to dealing with the pandemic.
In our next blog, we will discuss how to prepare your child “emotionally” for the new school year.