the lingering effects of online learning

The Lingering Effects of Online Learning: 5 Tips That Can Help

In what seemed like the blink of an eye, COVID turned the whole world upside down. It was truly difficult and everyone was impacted, but one of the hardest-hit groups was teenagers. One day they were in school hanging out with friends, attending classes, enjoying extra-curricular activities, and seemingly the next day holed up in their rooms staring at their teachers on a screen and pretending to care. Now, after a year or so of turmoil, most schools have gradually re-opened and the vast majority of students are back in the classroom, but the lingering effects on online learning are concerning.

…the emotional fallout (of the pandemic) for teenagers has been uniquely brutal. At just the age when they are biologically predisposed to seek independence from their families, teens have been trapped at home. Friends — who take on paramount importance during adolescence — are largely out of reach, accessible mostly by social media…” 

Isolating teenagers, as was necessary during COVID, has led to a significant uptick in lingering mental health issues. Low motivation, increased anxiety, and depression are currently the most common complaints among students. Being back on a regular school schedule is great but can feel overwhelming, like emerging from the dark into bright sunlight.

This emotional turmoil has caused major issues in the academic success of students.  Many students who had trouble getting motivated, such as students who have executive function difficulties and had trouble turning in assignments on time before the pandemic completely shut down during online learning.  This was likely a result of feeling overwhelmed and so they avoided their work. And now, going from waking up later and having a loose daily structure to waking up again at the crack of dawn has created chronic exhaustion and made it hard to concentrate in class. Organization, time management, and staying on top of their work have all been affected as well. Students are in the midst of a recovery period and reconnecting with academics will take time and patience.

It is hard to know how to handle the lingering effects of online learnng, but here are some tips that can help:

  1. Ask your child what worries them about school. Actively listen without interruption, validate their concerns, and talk it through with them.

  2. Establish schedules and routines with your child, such as establishing set wake-up time, bed-time, and homework time. By asking for their input, it will make them feel more in control and increase the chance of success.

  3. Be proactive rather than reactive. Anticipate potential “triggers” based on past experiences and be prepared to handle them in a supportive, non-judgmental way.

  4. Monitor your child’s mental health during this transition period and stay in contact with their guidance counselor.

  5. If you feel as though stepping back from your previous level of involvement in their academics might ease tensions, a trained academic coach might be just the answer.

If you believe your child is in crisis, always contact a mental health professional.