The past few years have been brutal on students K-12. But middle and high school students have been facing uniquely challenging struggles at an age that is already inherently tumultuous. Not shockingly, students are behind because of COVID-related stressors. The pandemic yanked these students from the world they knew, and recently, they’ve plopped back into a new post-pandemic world. The strange discontinuity has disoriented teens and tweens especially, as they navigate transitional periods in their education. So where exactly are our teens and tweens at? What’s got them so stressed right now, and how can we best support them?
Countless Students Struggling with Mental Health
Anxiety and depression set in as many of the student’s extracurriculars vanished. According to a NatGeo, as many as 46% of parents report their child/student is struggling with mental health. Not for nothing, this isn’t entirely shocking. Students struggling with mental health have been a feature of online-classes at nearly every age level. School was stressful for students long before the pandemic started, and once the pandemic began, things only became more challenging.
The very extracurriculars that afforded students a break, whether they be music lessons or soccer, became impossible to participate in. No less, kids were forced to socially distance themselves from their friends and families for quite a while. It’s almost as if we’ve all had to be resocialized after so much time alone, and children are feeling that stress too. The skinny of it: kids felt more stressed —with less destressors.
The reintroduction to school and social-settings for teens and tweens has not been easy. Many of the cliché struggles of early teen years like body image and behavioral changes are difficult enough as is. At that stage, many of us wanted to hide-away at home, and school felt dreaded at times. Well, these strata of students were sort of forced to do just that, and understandably, leaving home is hard now.
Learning Loss: Students Are Behind Because of COVID-Triggered School Closures
Recent studies from McKinsey & Company qualified what educators already claimed: all groups of students are behind in both math and reading. The report goes as far as saying that students are 4-5 months behind because of COVID. However, the reality may be even worse than that, as the study only accounted for students who at the time could attend in-person classes. The McKinsey & Company study also confirmed that schools in urban areas were more likely to be remote than those in rural areas. Thus, students in urban areas are expected to bear a greater share of the learning loss than rural peers.
High schoolers are concerned about their college readiness. After so much time attending class from their beds, high schoolers are feeling ill-prepared for college. We’ve all heard the nightmarish stories of minimal online instruction during the pandemic. High school students are behind because of COVID, but the damage may last well beyond high school. Many high schoolers are paying the price as they approach the SAT exam, and eventually, college classes.
Anecdotally, as a current TA in a freshmen-only college math class, it’s clear students are behind because of COVID, and are struggling to keep up with college-level instruction. Addressing learning-loss while your child is still in high school can save them painful and costly semesters down the line.
Hope Moving Forward
Students are behind because of COVID, but the USC Rossier school of Education suggests there may be hope in intensive one-on-one or group tutoring. For students behind because of COVID, the Rossier School has found the most effective means to mending the learning-loss students experienced during COVID. Tip-Top Brain offers just that, top-notch, personalized and intensive one-on-one or group tutoring. With hard work, and a detailed plan for academic support, students can recover, or even excel in-class again! Though students are behind because of COVID, the pandemic has made for a new world of instructional methods and learning strategies, we’ve got this!
However, your child’s academic comeback should be holistic, and we must remember the social and emotional tolls the last two years have had on kids. Carve out time for your child to have spirit-lifting social interaction, whether it be them hanging out with friends, or visiting their cousins. Taking time out in nature is also extremely effective in centering oneself, so a walk in the park as a study break can prove refreshing and beneficial for teens.
Also, parents must remember to take great care of themselves, not just to model healthy practices for their children, but also because they’re worn down right now too. Parents should do their best to practice self-care, and even treat themselves. Remember: Emotions are contagious. When you feel stressed, your child is likely to feel stress. But the opposite is true too: when you feel awesome, they’re more likely to feel awesome. Now let’s feel awesome moving forward!