As schools shift back to classroom teaching, are students ready to be reintroduced to outer world?
The pandemic period has been tough for everyone and especially the children who have not been able to step outside and have experienced a major change in their daily lifestyle.
Several children complained about not being able to go outdoors when the pandemic hit and everyone was asked to stay indoors at all times. "When the first lockdown was announced in March 2020, my parents told me that I cannot go out to even ride my bicycle and it felt very unreal. I was used to meeting my friends every day but then suddenly I was only allowed to talk to them for some time over call. It felt weird…and I felt incomplete," said Karishma Pundit, a 12-year-old student from New Delhi said.
It took children a few months to get accustomed to the inside world — a world where they were told not to step outdoors unless necessary, wear face masks, hand gloves at all times, not touch anything or talk to anyone, and more. The almost-apocalyptic world became scary at first, but children soon embraced it.
However, now that the world is heading out once again and schools are reopening, parents and teachers wonder if the children would be comfortable in their old schedules again, especially the ones who have not seen a world without the pandemic.
"Introduction to the outdoor world has to be done cautiously as they have been a safe environment for a very long time," said Vijayalakshmi K, Head of Student Wellness (Disha), Gopal Narayan Singh University. "Exposing them to small groups and conduct group games will help them know about each other. They also realised the family values and bonding. Educating the child that peer friendships would help the child to develop holistically."
In addition to this, some experts have also urged parents to slowly, and safely, allow their children to step outdoors and play socially-distanced games. It is important that parents start allowing, in fact accompany, their children to few hours outdoors every evening. This will make sure that they not only get re-accustomed to the outside world but also get some physical exercises and fresh air.
"Spending time outdoors is a great immunity booster, channelises energies in the right direction, and keeps children mentally healthy and happy," said Sandhya Gatti, Head of Pedagogy and Teacher Training, Chaman Bhartiya School. "Parents must give clear instructions to children about how to keep themselves safe with sanitisers and social distancing. When rightly communicated, most children will follow rules because they know it is their only way to keep outdoors accessible."
While it is important to make sure children stay safe from the deadly coronavirus, imposing too many dos and don’ts can have a reverse effect on children and their learning graph. Experts believe that is too many rules and regulations are imposed on children, it can dampen the spirits of children and will also demotivate them from going outdoors.
As children head back to classrooms, it is also important to make sure that they are taught the value of friendships and peer relationships.
"Many students develop a good personality with good friendships. Mental health improves with a good friend, and several problems like highs and low moods can be minimised," Vijayalakshmi K said. "Day to day activities like playing in the sun (team games), playing board games together can improve the relationship with peers. Making the buddy system compulsory will help with academics, and doubt clarification can be done within peers. Constant sharing of age-appropriate topics can boost memory and increase sharp thinking in children."