Fidgety within minutes, impatience in queues, difficulty in making eye contact, sudden naps and unannounced lunch breaks. These are some of the serious and seriously hilarious side-effects of classroom learning for young children trying to unlearn being online for classes.
After two years of computer learning, schools have resumed. While some students are relishing being back on their benches, reuniting with classmates and enjoying their teachers’ company, others who have never attended a school, or did so briefly before the Covid-19 pandemic struck, are finding it hard to inculcate the school-going habit.
Dr Swati Popat Vats, president of Podar Education Network, said, “Kids are unable to sit for more than three to four minutes. They are unable to share or wait for their turn, though it was being practiced during online classes.” She said eye contact has been lost owing to screen usage and children are unable to complete their activities.
“They require repeated reminders and motivation to complete their assigned tasks,” she said, adding that eye contact is being re-established through games such as blinking, looking, and looking away, before making eye contact again. Even self-regulation games like musical chairs are being used to assert the need for listening and waiting for directions.
Sachu Ramalingam, the head of Centre of Well Being at Lighthouse Learning, said some children showed signs of anxiety, while others ate unannounced during the class, as for the past two years they were at home in their comfort zones surrounded by their family. Ramalingam also pointed out that many children, owing to lack of writing practice, lost their grip, too. “While the older children can recoup easily, the younger ones will need at least two to three months to learn to write, as some of them have come to school for the first time,” she said.
As a result of such behavioural concerns, she said their schools are conducting six training programmes for teachers. “Over 3,000 teachers participated in these virtual sessions, where we focused on creating awareness about these behavioural issues,” she added.
Another school chain counsellor, Bethsheba Sheth, the head of department of special needs and counselling at Orchids – The International School, said, “The social IQ of younger students and their grade-level learning seem to have taken a hit and they are awkward and weary to expected social norms.” She added that the teaching and support faculty are being trained to handle the changes.