Let’s understand the weight of distance learning. The education system has struggled to apply known brain science and research on the impacts of trauma on mental health in children (and adults), as it applies to learning. More and more, studies are coming out about the impact of a global pandemic on a child's capacity to learn. They are failing in part, because they are stuck in an antiquated system of “this is how education is done” instead of “Let’s make this be a turning point in education.” A turning point in education focused on creativity and viewing learning as a lifelong process, rather than solely for 12 years of a child’s life. The fact remains, that there is no answer that every family will be happy with because we all in different positions.
I speak as a parent of two elementary school students, as a wife to a high school teacher, and as a child mental health provider of 20 years. Our education system has to change the expectations of the definition of success in this school year.
The pandemic changed everything about our lives. It became apparent quickly that while COVID 19 is highly contagious, so was emotional distress and mental health decline.
Parents and the community heard many districts say in September “we’re providing training on Social Emotional Learning (SEL) to teachers” and that the focus would be on making sure the students were capable of learning, because teachers would focus on the students emotional needs first.
Many districts have failed to provide teachers with trauma-informed learning strategies or even awareness of the impact trauma has on the learning brain. Many districts relied on programs and self-motivated teachers to learn how to put effective SEL practices in place. This failed attempt to develop a culture of SEL, has also failed to meet the demands that a pandemic places on both students and teachers.