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Learning Gap in Elementary School Children

Almost everyone has played teacher at least once in their lives, writing on little blackboards, hands covered in chalk dust, marking their own notebooks, but now one can only wonder how kids would play teacher today, would it just involve them talking to a screen? The Coronavirus forced the entire human population to adapt to a “new normal”, be it wearing masks wherever you go, house arrests, or working from home and remote learning; and while we have, as always, evolved and rose to the challenge, just because something has been normalised doesn’t mean it was entirely in our best interest.

The Problem with Remote Learning

Remote learning especially is a prime example of this, the discipline, the social, emotional and physical development, and the experiential learning that the traditional classroom environment brings with it is something remote learning can only hope to achieve. Staring at a computer screen for 6 or more hours straight is no less than a feat, and a debilitating one at that, worsening everyone’s eyesight and posture and giving them health issues that could potentially last an entire lifetime.

The years where these children had the most developmental potential were being spent inside their homes.

Elementary school children have been the worst hit of this “new normal” as they have been robbed of one of the most essential developmental facilitators of their lives during their formative years. The years where these children had the most developmental potential in every domain, including sensory-motor, cognitive, and social-emotional, all of which are likely to be affected, were spent inside their homes.

What All Has It Affected

Concepts such as independence, like when it comes to them going to the toilet by themselves, eating by themselves or choosing their own friends, sharing, cooperation, discipline, and many more are best learnt at school, but now the onus of inculcating these qualities in children has fallen solely on the parents which becomes hard considering they have to attend to their jobs as well.

More and more children now have separation anxiety.

Fine motor development of these children has also been affected, with children having low endurance for writing tasks, hey are also not used to harsh climates nor are they in touch with nature as they are used to being in the comfort of their homes, which also translates to them having a hard time forming social connections as they have only been exposed to a certain group of people, and hence have a hard time leaving that security blanket. Attention spans and information retention of these children also have a hard time developing due to the excess of stimulus/distractions around them.

What the Authorities Have to Say

According to a report prepared by the World Bank in collaboration with UNESCO and UNICEF, titled “State of the Global Education Crisis: A Path to Recovery report”, “Regional evidence from Brazil, Pakistan, rural India, South Africa, and Mexico, among others, show substantial losses in math and reading.” Different methods based on the age and needs of the students will have to be adopted to overcome this loss.

Way Forward

As we now move into offline teaching, the damages done by remote learning will become evident -impaired concentration, lack of social skills, decline in the habit of reading and writing, decline in practical application and problem solving skills. With tremendous effort, we as a society learned to adapt to and overcame the pandemic, but this battle wasn’t won without any losses, we will most certainly overcome the challenge that is the loss of learning successfully as well, and and one can only hope that the years to come will be a testament to that.

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