In July, I wrote an article for this blog highlighting the uncertainty and disruption experienced by parents facing potential school closures and compounded by lack of plans communicated by schools. So what has changed for parents over the eternity that has been the last 3 months? Unfortunately, for people in relatively populous areas, not much.
Schools around the country have developed virtual offerings with varying degrees of success. Those that have opted for in person learning have often taken safety measures such as use of masks, no or limited playground time, lunch in the classroom, and even silent lunches. Enrollments in virtual schools are up significantly since 2019 due to both the undesirable atmosphere in brick and mortar schools and the fear of contracting the virus. Parents are still in a lurch trying to juggle making the best choices for their children while keeping the family safe and remaining employed.
A discussion has evolved over the past several months regarding the safety of our children: between the virus and social isolation, which is most harmful to our little ones? Psychotherapist Amy Morin has proposed that school closures create emotional distress in children, particularly those that have pre-existing mental health issues. In the article she wrote, Morin cites three recent studies suggesting an uptick in mental health issues in children since the pandemic began.
Socialization has long been recognized as an important piece of early childhood development. According to pediatrician and child psychologist, Dr. Nina Sand-Loud, of Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center:
Human beings in general are very social creatures. Social interaction with family members and peers is really important for normal human development. There are critical windows when children need to experience these things. During early and middle childhood, kids are really open to learning about social norms, and much of that is learned from peers, not just from your parents.
In recognizing the benefit of social interactions, parents everywhere are seeking social engagements for their children that schools are not providing. Children are getting out of the house but at a significant increase in cost (both in terms of time and money) to their parents and with no end in sight.
In an effort to help, Kids Connected has launched a new Field Trip category in which we organize and facilitate in person field trips. Please let us know if you would like for us to set something up in your city!