The entire world is experiencing trauma of some form or the other, due to a public health crisis and parents should focus on helping children create coping skills during this time.
This was the view of psychologist Dr Katija Khan who was interviewed on Thursday on the Education Ministry’s decision to have formalised online learning via the learn.moe.gov.tt, online learning platform. Students will most likely remain at home until the September school term.
Khan said while the platform is a good initiative, the population needs to understand that no one should operate as if it is business as usual when it comes to students, teachers and parents who are all coping with an unprecedented level of stress during the covid19 restrictions.
“All of this needs to be seen through the lens of being in a pandemic and being in a crisis where a lot of the resources we had are no longer available to us. We need to first modify our expectations on what is possible in its given context.”
Education has always favoured the middle class, Khan said, and online learning would continue to perpetuate that class inequity as there would be some households with access to the internet and multiple devices and other households without these tools.
Students who already struggle with their studies would find it even more difficult to function at home. School is a place for psycho-socialisation among peer groups and students would not have access to that community. As well, parents may not be able to assist their children in their instructions at home.
Khan said there is a lot of emphasis on the importance of passing exams which is the greatest stress on a student in normal times. This, he said, could be magnified in a time when human movement and interaction are restricted for health reasons. Then there is also an inequity in the classroom with students who have learning disabilities or are living in abusive homes.
“They can’t function properly and that’s outside of our public health crisis. So what about the expectation of students to study and then in September be willing to sit CXC, when they’ve just come out of a massive global trauma?”
Khan’s advice to parents is to maintain a happy, healthy household, learning how to manage stress and self-soothe and figure out how education can fit into that self-care system.
“Missing six months of school is not going to make or break your child‘s future if we imbue them with emotional coping skills that will help them be more resilient in the future. This crisis is temporary.”
She said when children look back at their time during the covid19 stay-at-home measures, they won’t remember specific lessons or schoolwork, but rather how supportive, loved and safe their parents made them feel.