My students have returned badly by the epidemic. Not a ‘catch up’ lesson
L.Last week, while watching an old DVD about “Growth and Change” with my 2nd class of the year, a child in the program blew out their birthday candle and shared a piece of cake with their friends. This spread tension in the classroom. “Miss, was it before Corona? It’s embarrassing! “
Birthday parties are a small part of what little kids have missed in the last two years. Since the first lockdown began, children have missed months of classroom learning, game dates, drama teams and football practice. Recent offset research shows that the epidemic has delayed the social skills of young children – resulting in some being unable to understand facial expressions. These will not surprise any teacher. There were no national lockdowns or two-week “bubbles” this academic year, and this relative continuity was great. However, returning to school has given staff a clearer understanding of how the epidemic has affected children’s development.
Recent reports from Amanda Spielman, chief inspector of Offset, echo what I have seen among young children in my school. The primary year non-statutory curriculum is based on the principle that all areas of education are connected. It places more emphasis on communication and social and physical development than on older year curricula, where progress is more traditionally defined in the academic sense. So it is not surprising that children who have missed months of nursery and reception – the school year that teaches them how to play collaboratively with others and express their needs or ideas – are now showing the gap in these basic skills.
In my school, some children are now struggling to express what they need or want, to answer simple questions or to follow short instructions. This has a knock-on effect on their social skills. Those who have not practiced too much in conversation or sharing with others find it difficult to play and use school resources. Many children have missed out on opportunities for physical development; Boys and girls between the ages of four and five prefer to go to the toilet through the corridor instead of walking.
My school emphasizes a relational approach to education, recognizing that children learn best when they feel safe, secure, and stable. I see anxiety in the students I teach, which manifests itself in different ways – pain and suffering, reluctance to enter the classroom in the morning, reluctance to try new things – all affect their ability to work in the classroom. Classroom teachers and teacher assistants are very important for developing a sense of security in young children. Every time one of us falls ill with Kovid-19, it affects the children we read to.
I often think that sudden school closures during the last two years of lockdowns, which give school staff or families very little time to mentally prepare children for dramatic changes, have left a lasting impression on children that they can rely on school as a constant. In their lives. It is really sad to think of those children who lack stability in their home life and what effect this abrupt closure will have on them.
Teachers identified a number of issues raised in recent offset searches at the beginning of the epidemic. Education experts have called for a “Summer of Play” in 2021, and Kevin Courtney of NEU has called for schools to be flexible in organizing curricula to support children’s mental needs in 2020. So it seems confusing that the Department of Education has chosen to pay more attention to the lost academic education than to miss the social, physical, communication and mental development of the children. The National Tutoring Program, assessing children through SAT after a two-year break, or applying for a minimum classroom time will not solve these problems.
Babies are naturally tolerant. In addition to the anxiety and fear surrounding Kovid-19, they have dealt with the epidemic with humor and creativity. It was interesting to see how my students portrayed the epidemic in their games, stories and drawings. Many more have adapted to the epidemic than some of the adults I know. While this school year has been tedious for kids (my 2nd year has not been an uninterrupted period of education like this year), I can already see the strong part that time and continuity will play a role in children’s development after the lockdown.
All the staff at the school want the best for the children they serve, although their point of view will be different to see the “best”. I feel fortunate that my school did not impose some of the instructions I heard others received, such as setting up post-school “catch-up” sessions for children under the age of six, or mocking SATs for the first week in September 2021. At the school I attend, leaders acknowledge that filling the learning gap is a long-term, ongoing project that will require collaboration and communication between staff of different ages over the next year.
Over the past academic year, working in 1, I have created more time on school days for play and research, and given children the opportunity to develop the social, physical, communication and mental skills they missed after a broken year of reception. Although we endured more lockdowns and class-bubble off that year, I have been working with the same kids for 2 years now and believe that the extra time dedicated to these basic learning skills and behaviors has long-term effects that I don’t think are extra classroom hours or statutory. Evaluation will be achieved. Perhaps a key lesson from the epidemic is that government and primary schools should draw more inspiration from elementary school curricula – with an emphasis on communication and social and physical education – and value these basic areas of development as well as academic achievement.
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