2020 was a roller coaster and I think we can all agree on that. Classes for many have started again this year and still with so many questions going through everyone’s heads. School used to be something completely different. It was always educational, but it was also a social rite of passage of sorts. I know that many of you are having mixed feelings about how the education system is running things now. I know I am. Where the heck are we at now? And, how can we try to find continuity and stability, when school has been so choppy this past year?
Figuring out a new way of life during a global pandemic is something that none of us have ever had to do before.
If your school isn’t completely remote, it might be “hyperflex.” Hyperflex classes are when the class gets divided into two and one group goes one day while the other watches online. Then the next day it’s the opposite. Of course, if anyone is near campus, they HAVE to follow the COVID precautions in order to actually be there. That includes wearing face masks, washing hands all the time, maintaining social distance, and avoiding any sort of crowdment.
From kindergarteners to seniors in high school to graduate students, adapting to online school is definitely having an effect.
The obvious challenge with going back to school during a global pandemic is adapting to online learning and the new COVID-19 safety protocols some schools are practicing in order to have in-person learning.
For students who attend schools that have opted solely for online, remote learning, they are facing many challenges they haven’t before, such as learning time management and managing distractions at home.
Students who attend schools that have some in-person learning are dealing with navigating new COVID-19 safety protocols such as wearing face masks, separating desks with plastic shields, and social distancing, which can oftentimes be detrimental to the actual educational aspect of school.
For teens and young adults especially, social interaction is a HUGE part of school.
Interacting and socializing with peers of a similar age is a major part of social development, and attending school during a pandemic doesn’t allow for this to be a reality. Zoom/Google Classroom meetings and FaceTime calls definitely can’t replace authentic, in-person interactions.
Many feel that this school year has been and will continue to be a tough challenge through this pandemic.
The majority of kids and teens actually attended school in person (although online classes have been around for years), and although they would whine about it, they prefer walking to the building then sitting all day in front of a computer.
So many distractions at home can affect a kid’s education. It can never exactly equal that in person experience. Another issue is economic: like purchasing the internet, computers, etc. Not all people have access to such things. As advanced as the world can be, there are still struggles in getting the best online experience for the kids. Some parents have to go to work to survive and the students are left at home to do school on their own, which has its own challenges, to say the least.
The Effect of COVID-19 on Parents
With kids, teens, and even college students, being back at home doing school online, COVID-19 has definitely had a stressful impact on parents. Many people are still working from home with no end in sight, or because the restrictions keep changing, life feels unstable, like you can never get started, because it may change at a moment’s notice.
The phrase “too many cooks in the kitchen” can definitely be applied here. Students adjusting to online learning at the same time as their parents adjusting to working from home is definitely a recipe for stress.
Many parents have found themselves performing a dual role that they weren’t prepared for: parent AND teacher. While adjusting to working completely remotely, parents have felt the need to help their children adjust to learning online as well. The frustration that inevitably comes with doing anything extensive online (like running a school), creates stress not only for the students, but for the parents as well. Remembering to be patient with yourself and accepting that you can’t necessarily change the situation will hopefully make it seem a lot less stressful.
This may lead to major stress for adults. Not only economically, but just thinking about the education difference affecting your kid/teen makes your stomach turn. Sometimes it’s a struggle in your mind figuring out how to get your kids to adapt to such a situation.
All of these things do affect mental health BIG TIME. This is why we need to look out for each other more than ever.
Sometimes an adult will feel useless when a child doesn’t comprehend certain things and asks them for help. So many more factors are affecting the adults during this back to school year. Here are some tips for parents.
Tips for Parents and Teens While Navigating COVID-19
Navigating life during a global pandemic is definitely not easy, as we’ve never had to deal with anything like this before that has interrupted our lives to this level. The relationship between parent and teen/young adult is already growing and evolving so much, and you definitely do not need any extra stress.
Consider these tips for navigating COVID-19 if you are a parent or teen navigating our changing world:
- Share your frustrations with each other – This can help create a sense of camaraderie and is a good time to reflect on a shared experience
- Take a breath – Breathe in for 5 seconds, hold for 3 seconds, and breathe out for 5 seconds. Doing a few rounds of this will help calm down both your mind and your body, giving you a chance to really focus on how stress is affecting your body
- Get help – It’s okay to admit that you need help, that’s what counselors like me are here for! Sometimes just talking to someone outside of your immediate family is exactly what you need.
- If possible try to separate school/work space from personal space. Set up an area that is designated for school/work. When students sleep in their bed, do school in their bed, on social media or watch movies in their bed it can be hard to separate, both physically and mentially.
During these times, especially when being a parent, we have no time to panic. The kids are looking up to their parents and hope for them to make things better. But that doesn’t mean you should lock up your emotions and bottle them up. That will make things even worse! Taking deep breaths is the first step, and if that doesn’t help, go get some help! There is nothing wrong with visiting your local counselor or simply speaking to a friend/loved one.
Staying Safe During COVID-19 Pandemic
Right now, the main priority for everyone is to keep yourself and your loved ones safe. Whether you have school-aged children or are a teen/young adult yourself, reminding yourself on some key practices to keep you safe is always a good idea:
- Wash your hands with warm, soapy water for at least 30 seconds
- Wearing face masks/shields
- Maintaining a 6 foot difference from others
- Coughing or sneezing into your elbow
- Monitoring yourself for any COVID-19 symptoms, such as shortness of breath, loss of smell/taste, and other flu-like symptoms
- Constantly sanitizing hands and high-touch areas
As long as we follow the rules and give the rest of the year our all, we will begin to move forward from these difficult times. Always keep that in mind!
About Peek Counseling | Denver Teen Therapy and Counseling for Adolescents and Young Adults
Katie Bisbee-Peek, MA, LPC is a Licensed Professional Counselor and owner of Peek Counseling. Her passion is to support, encourage, and empower the people she works with, including teens, young adults, and families. Her professional background includes working in private practice, the schools, day treatment, and in-home family therapy. To book an appointment with Katie or to find out more information about her practice, you can visit her at katiebisbeepeek.com or visit her on Facebook @peekcounseling!