By Dinah Whitton
After months of adhering to physical distance regulations it’s natural for some adults and children to feel anxious. Traditional homeschool families may not necessarily feel the same effects as those suddenly learning at home due to the pandemic. School closures, the lack of activities and external pressures of hectic schedules are proving to be beneficial for some. It may be challenging for certain families to learn from home during a crisis; however, having less external distractions can lead to a greater time of focus.
The Covid-19 global pandemic has led to the closure of schools across the world and many students are adjusting to learning exclusively online. While there are some distractions that come with a virtual academic platform, the physical distractions of peers in a classroom are no longer prevalent. Classroom disruptions, overcrowding and bullying are some of the consistent challenges within the school system. The absence from the classroom is likely contributing to reduced anxiety for some students. According to a study by the Public Health Agency of Canada, “Between 4–12 percent of boys and girls in grades 6 through 10 report having been bullied once a week or more.” From 2006 – 2014 there was a significant increase of youth being victimized at least twice a week, “Approximately one in four Canadian youth reported being victimized this frequently.” Now, imagine the relief those students are experiencing without the looming threat of regular harassment.
South of the border students experience similar challenges, and some are faring well despite the school closures. In a recent article in the New York Times, one young lady expressed how much she enjoys learning at home, “I can work at my own pace without being interrupted by disruptive students and teachers who seem unable to manage them.”
In addition to the stress of attending school, parents might be inadvertently adding to the load. In an effort to give children a well rounded education and upbringing, parents often have a tendency to schedule multiple extracurricular activities. However, children can be overwhelmed with the pressure to perform which contributes to higher levels of stress. According to a recent Edutopia article, students are thriving through remote learning because they are not being over extended, “Students who are over-committed, especially if they feel obligated to take certain courses or participate in activities, are more likely to experience unhealthy anxiety levels.” Students are still expected to complete school work remotely, but they can now do so in the comfort of their own home.
This unprecedented time is certainly causing an interesting paradox: an increase and decrease of anxiety due to an extended period of isolation. Many are anxious because of the uncertainty of a global crisis and limited interactions with others. On the other hand, stress levels are down because schedules are less hectic and external pressures (and threats) are no longer dominant. In Psychology Today, Dr. Peter Gray also noted the significance of anxiety levels among school children within the last couple of years, “…a third of schoolchildren suffer from anxiety sufficient for a clinical diagnosis of anxiety disorder.” While most adults suggest anxiety in children is likely due to other factors, “…kids themselves cite the pressures of school as by far the major cause.” However, Dr. Gray is questioning the effects on children who don’t have the immediate pressures of school and evidently have more time for themselves, “Do kids who may not have experienced such freedom since they were 4 years old even know what to do with it?” He says the anxiety might increase for the same reasons it may decrease, “But it might decrease because of the reduced pressures and increased opportunities for self-chosen activities, even though the activities are limited because they can’t get together physically with friends.”
For parent educators increased anxiety may still be an issue during these uncertain times; but, their children don’t have the added stress of returning to a classroom after the pandemic. The new normal is yet to be determined, but the freedom to continue homeschooling remains intact. Perhaps there will be some new families who realize the peace of mind that comes with learning from home and will continue to do so even when schools reopen. Regardless of the outcome, this is an incredible opportunity to actively help your children reduce their anxiety levels in a safe and loving environment.
As your family continues to navigate through these extraordinary times, take note of the following simple tips to help reduce childhood anxiety:
Replace extracurricular activities with science experiments, a gaming hour, or indulge in a new or existing hobby. Choose alternate activities that make learning fun and stress free at home!
Hone in on the areas of difficulty slowly and intentionally. Spend a little more time each day on areas that need improvement in a relaxed atmosphere. Utilize learning games and other fun activities to reinforce challenging subjects.
Take a moment to truly embrace the flexibility and freedom of home education. Aside from being isolated, homeschooling gives you the ability to focus on your child’s needs to help them learn in a relaxed environment. This is a great opportunity to slow down and enjoy your family without a demanding schedule.
If you’re new to home education or you just need a refresher, visit Homeschool.Today to get the latest information and to get connected with Canada’s leading homeschool experts.
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© CCHE. All rights reserved. The information provided on this site is meant for informational purposes only. The information is distributed with the understanding that it does not constitute legal advice, and it should not be relied upon as such. Readers with legal questions should consult with a qualified lawyer regarding the specifics of their particular situation. Links may be provided to third party sites that some homeschooling families have found to be helpful. You should exercise your own independent skill and judgement in making homeschool resource and curriculum choices for your family.