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Engage young minds in collaborative learning

By Jyoti Arora,

Emphasizing strengths, hope and positivity can be healing and reassuring for children.

It’s time for schools to continue to put the students at the centre of all their decisions, writes Jyoti Arora.

The last year had been a challenging year forcing all of us to adapt to new realities but ultimately left us optimistic. We came to realise that we are not only capable of adapting to but also thriving upon change. 

As compared to adults, children are more vulnerable to the emotional impact of the traumatic events that disrupt their lives. The unprecedented trauma like COVID-19 pandemic came as a challenge for them. We, the adults need to remember that children have left behind more than just their classes and academics. Hanging out with friends, face-to-face interactions, discussions in the school corridors, sports and excursions have become matters of the bygone days. The children had to forgo all that they held dear in the past two years of pandemic.  

For this reason, it’s time for schools to continue to put the students at the centre of all their decisions. While the technological know-how to virtually connect with our students is necessary, it is not sufficient to continue the teaching and learning endeavour. Beyond the electronic connection, we need to connect emotionally to our children specially in times of anxiety and uncertainty. We will have to consider creating community discussion boards for our children to share what is happening in their lives. As children often take their emotional cues from the adults in their lives, including parents and teachers, it's important that adults take the lead, manage their own emotions well, remain calm, listen to children's concerns, speak politely, reassure them constantly and set limits when needed.  

Ongoing access to news and social media about the after-effects of the pandemic and constant conversations about threats to public safety can cause unnecessary stress for children. The emotions of the children need to be regulated. Fostering emotional expression of the youngsters through creative outlets like art, music or reflective prompts can go a long way in this direction. I believe engaging the young minds in collaborative learning can be the best way to support them, and make them emotionally strong. It will not only help in fostering healthy relationships but also encourage them to learn from each other. We can create space for our young ones where their voice and insights can illuminate the path we are carving out for them. 

Unaddressed emotional health problems can have dire consequences too. Resources such as special education experts and school psychologists can play a vital role in supporting vulnerable students. Emphasizing strengths, hope and positivity can also be healing and reassuring for children. 

Having a bigger family particularly with twins can also act as an advantage at times as the children in this case have a readymade school mate of the same age to vent out emotions and confide in. 

No doubt any child who already suffers from mental health difficulties may struggle more than others and would definitely require extra care and support. 

As per my belief, we have navigated the pandemic crisis in the right way and could use the situation as a valuable opportunity to teach resilience, anxiety management, frustration tolerance, empathy, gratitude and the importance of coming together for supporting the global community to the children. 

Jyoti Arora is the Principal of Mount Abu Public School, Sec-5, Rohini. Views expressed are personal.