How closure of schools is affecting kids’ social and intellectual development?

From delayed speech and language skills to deteriorating mental health, Covid-19 time is taking a huge toll on children’s overall development.

Confined to their homes with little outdoor time and social interaction, many children are still reeling under the impact of Covid-19 pandemic. For young children, especially those below 5, it could mean delay in many developmental milestones. Pediatricians for example saw an increased prevalence of delayed speech and language in kids during this time.

Covid-19 has not only affected the physical health of children but also their overall development from the imposed social confinement for an indefinite time.

For children, brief periods out of education can have a lasting and adverse effect. Many will and have forgotten what they had initially learnt in school. Though online education has taken over, we must not forget that it still is not a viable option for many living in remote areas or not financially well-off. Not every child has the privilege of an appropriate environment meant for pursuing education from home. Such children have been the most affected, thus harming their intellectual development.

Children not only learn from the books, they also absorb from their surroundings and social interactions. The pandemic time is affecting social skills of many children. It’s been proven time and again that past traumatic or unnatural childhood experiences have negatively impacted an individual’s development.

“Children everywhere were not getting the same social exposure that they used to in schools. There’s definitely been a lack of playtime with their peers, interaction in class, which has affected children’s social skills,” adds the expert.

Apart from development delays, kids in general are also battling with isolation, uncertainty and stressful environment at home which could further affect their personality.

The past one and a half year has brought in isolation and uncertainty. Many children don’t have a healthy atmosphere at home owing to parental angst, family arguments, etc. It is also seen that work and family pressure causes parents not being able to spend as much time with their children. From this, some develop feelings of loneliness, and the pandemic has fueled the same.

Besides increase in screen time is impacting their mental health and inducing an unhealthy lifestyle.

Online classes disrupted the daily schedule and sleeping cycle for children and their parents (more so for toddlers). Some schools also overburdened the students with excess assignments which has not helped. Sitting for long hours in front of a screen for classes has taken a toll on every child, with Zoom fatigue setting in.

How parents can help children cope with these trying times:

* Talk to your children and try to understand them. Spend as much time possible with them, learn about their concerns.

* Be there for them as a parent and confidante.

* Give them their space when needed, especially for adolescents; don’t over impose.

* Help them stay fit with a proper diet.

* Engage them in exercise. Perform low to moderate intensity workouts together

* Teach them Covid-19 hygiene protocols, which are important now more than ever since schools are gradually re-opening.

* Show them how to wear a mask and get a comfortable fit for them.

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