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The big stressful elephant in the room…the effects of school closures during the pandemic.

Updated: Sep 27, 2022

Here's a topic we are all exhausted from discussing: the pandemic. I'm in a Fawlty Towers mindset of "Don't mention the Pandemic" at this point. But unfortunately, concerning education, we can't avoid the topic, so let's go for it.

Now that we know for the thousandth time what the problem is, shouldn't we be discussing solutions?

The real question is: how do we fix it?

One solution is to address the skills gap.

Many students and parents notice that students struggle with comprehension on various levels. What does that mean?

After careful assessment, I've discovered that one key element is what I refer to as background skills. These are skills such as note-taking, study skills, listening, analytical and critical thinking, and time management, to name a few. Students who lose their strong foundation with these skills cannot process and retain academic content.

The lockdowns and school closures abruptly paused the development of these vital academic skills. The result has been a ripple effect that has extended to social skill decline and mental health issues. (I am a doctor but not a medical doctor or a therapist, for more assistance regarding this matter, please get in touch with professionals within that field.)

Yet, I want to point out that these issues are interconnected.

Many ignore that the physical, mental, and academic are intertwined. You cannot treat one without acknowledging the other.

We will be attempting to solve this academic crisis for many years. But, to start putting it together, we must take action now and help students rebuild.

I've had parents call me in utter frustration, trying to help their students but feeling helpless and unable to make progress. Parents are stressed, and students are stressed. It's understandable and also something we can't ignore anymore.

Here are some of my tips for building background skills.

Remember repetition, routine, and recharge!

1. Create structure at home. Structure does not have to be militant, but it is needed to

create a schedule and routine.

2. Instead of things just being pointed at the student at home who needs help, develop

some activities that are we centered. For example, "we will eat dinner @ 6:00," or "work

time will be from 5:00-6:00 for everyone." This creates a sense of WE and gets everyone

moving in the same direction at home.

3. Repetition, repetition, repetition (on purpose) is vital. Remind your student or if you are

the student, remember that practice improves everything: academics, athletics, and

anything you are working on developing.

When you go to training after school, don't you work on skill development repeatedly? Don't you work on improving your ability to be good at your sport? Apply that exact repetition to your homework.

4. Pause when you feel frustrated and overwhelmed. Get up and walk away without a

device in your hand. Go outside, take a five-minute breath of fresh air and stop.

5. Take breaks from devices. Let's face it, we all have a device addiction. Every buzz, ding,

pop, and flash makes us look down, piques our curiosity, and causes us to be

distracted. But our attention span was one major skill that took a significant hit over the

past few years. We all sought ways to connect to the outside world since we felt

trapped inside. But now, we cannot focus for longer than 5 minutes because we have

adapted to this constant need to know and respond.

It's time to undo this. Put your phone in your backpack or a drawer during homework time. Leave it there. It won't be easy at first, but remind yourself this is useful. And, don't walk around with your device strapped to you at all times while at home. Take a break. You are not an electrical outlet that is charging this device. Please leave it in another room for a while and do something else.

These are just a few tips to get you started!

For more, check back regularly or contact me for further assistance.

Keep moving ahead. Things will improve, and remember, repetition, routine, and recharge!

If you enjoyed this content or think it will be helpful to anyone you know, please share it via social media or otherwise.

I am on Twitter @eduathleteusa, so feel free to Tweet me or use the contact form on my website.

Contact me for details or with questions!

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