I keep hearing that our children need to catch up over summer. I get it. I’m a parent with a school-aged child. Kids have been out of school for months, and this is going to have a significant impact on their learning, education and potentially their futures. Let’s not forget that these are unprecedented times – we are living through a pandemic. Schools, parents and pupils across the country have been coming together with limited resources, equipment and time to make things work in the best possible way. Are children falling behind? Absolutely but let’s stop saying that children need to catch up. Children don’t need to catch up -they need time to reset – as do their parents and their teachers.
Life in Lockdown
When things first changed and we hustled into lockdown, I was emotionally drained, scared, anxious and worried. I fell completely out of my comfort zone. Now for a child, they feel the same but tenfold. The bottom of their world completely fell out. Suddenly they weren’t able to see friends, family or go to the structure of school that they attend most days. Now even IF these children weren’t aware that there was a virus or that people were dying they were aware that something wasn’t right. Take my now 2-year old, for example, he has been unsettled, restless, irritable his whole routine has changed, and although we try to keep things the same as much as we can he isn’t seeing people or getting the same stimulations, and that isn’t easy. It’s evident in his character and behaviour.
Education is important, and I honestly believe it’s a foundation needed to project you into the next phase of life. I would be naive to assume that learning only happens in a classroom and that these children who have been at home all of this time haven’t been learning in other ways. They have been learning resilience, how to keep themselves entertained and they have been learning to adapt – to name just a few skills. These children don’t need to catch up; these children need to regroup, and so do their parents and teachers.
Life is Different Now
For many families and households across the UK grandparent’s, family and friends are an essential part of their lives. For many, they see these people regularly, and suddenly having them taken away must be hard. Combine that with now allowing them to see these people but only from a distance of 2m and it’s all in all quite overwhelming. Many families have felt bereavement throughout this process. Whether it’s losing a loved one, family, friend or neighbour, these children have missed schoolwork, yes but they’ve also missed the normality they have always known to be safe. These children don’t need to catch up; they need to re-establish a new normal, and so do their parents and their teachers.
It’s safe to say that the world is a different place to what it once was, and that has to be taken into consideration. The impact of that HAS to be taken into account. I’m 32 years old, and I’m finding that hard to deal with myself, let alone the mind of a child. There is a significant emphasis on education being missed and rightly so but these children don’t need to catch up; these children need time to adapt to being themselves in a new world and so do their parents and teachers.
There are whispers of cutting the summer holidays short or lessons continuing through summer, and on the one hand, I understand it entirely. Time has been lost. Education has been compromised, and these children have, through no fault of their own fallen behind, but these children don’t need to catch up; these children need to recover. Taking away their summer and that time with their families – that time to completely switch off and forget isn’t the solution. That time is important – just as important as education because it’s this time that prevents burnout and gives them a chance to recover and come back fresh. Continuing education throughout the summer, although it is beneficial for them academically isn’t necessarily helpful for everything else. This virus has destroyed many aspects of our lives, but it’s the knock-on effects like the impact on mental health that will continue to do damage for years to come.
Teachers Need Time Too
Don’t teachers need a break too? I can only speak from my experience with teachers throughout this process, but the ones I’ve seen and heard from are working tirelessly despite the fact they may not be in a classroom. Despite not being in the natural teaching environment, they are working harder, and they’re doing the best they can. Having teachers work over the summer may help children catch up but what it won’t do is give anybody the time to reset and refresh. Let’s stop putting an emphasis on children catching up because the impact of that, in the long run, is going to be more damaging.
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