Back to School During the Pandemic
Whether you started last month or this month, most of you who are in school are stuck with "distance learning". Unfortunately, since the pandemic, many of us have been impacted negatively; however, children/teens/young adults who are learning are really struggling. It isn't easy to stare at a screen all day for anyone, but it can negatively impact how someone learns since it is so different than being in an actual classroom. Despite being able to see teachers and classmates over video, those who already struggle with social cues, anxiety, or a learning disability are at an even bigger disadvantage because they are missing important information that just isn't available over a screen. Not to mention the ease of distraction when you can have many other windows open during class, or the sound of your dog or family in the background. Parents also struggle as they are trying to support their children in learning and work from home at the same time. It is wonderful that we have the capability to offer distance learning during such a time of illness and unknowns; however, it isn't without difficulty. So how do you cope with going back to school in such an unusual way?
Make a schedule - Some schools are offering more of a rigid schedule similar to in person learning, while others have more of a flexible schedule. Either way, making sure you have a fairly consistent schedule can help make sure you stay on task and get your work done, but that you also have time to relax.
Stay organized - If you have a designated space to get your work done that is separate from your bed or where you have fun, it can not only keep you more motivated and focused, but it helps keep the school/work/personal life separate. This isn't an easy task when everything is virtual, and you're doing everything in the perimeters of your own home.
Look at the positives - It can be really easy to get caught up in all the negatives. That is what your brain is trained to do in order to help you survive. But when you get caught in that loop, it can make it difficult to be happy and stay motivated. If you can look at the good and the bad, it can make things feel more balanced and easier to manage.
Creating time that is "non screen time" - With everything being virtual, your brain and eyes need a break. Make sure you take time out of the day to be outside or engaging in an activity that doesn't involve a screen.
Give yourself adequate family/friend time - We are social creatures. Even though we are in a time where social distancing is protecting you from getting sick, many people have "bubbles" they have created with people they trust. Make sure you take the time to spend with people you care about to process and talk about what you are experiencing and to also have fun.
Give yourself alone time - Everyone also needs time to themselves. It can look different for everyone, so just make sure you find what works for you. It can be hard if you live in a house full of other people, and we are in the middle of a shelter in place, but that doesn't mean it is impossible. Don't neglect "me time".
Above all, give yourself permission to struggle with the transition. Many people feel like they "should be used to it by now", but it isn't easy when you have been learning in person for most of your life. If you're having a hard time, take a quick break and come back to it. Sometimes we might need extra help with the transition as well. It's okay to reach out to a therapist if you need to.