Focusing On Student Well-Being In Times Of Crisis


Teachers and parents alike may be feeling worried about their students during the coronavirus crisis that has swept throughout the world, affecting every facet of life. In this article we’ll see how the pandemic is affecting students, how to support students emotionally, and how to keep students sane in the time of a global pandemic.



How The Pandemic Is Affecting Students

Coping with the COVID-19 pandemic comes with specific struggles for students. Many students may be feeling isolation and boredom, like many others who are stuck at home and practicing social distancing.


If students are studying abroad, they may find themselves away from the support and comfort of home, or they may have returned home and find themselves separated by time differences from their school friends and institutions.


Overall, many students are reporting an increased difficulty concentrating on their studies due to added stress, worry, and inability to acclimate to the online and distance learning platforms.



Students are coping with isolation, lack of motivation, and extra anxiety during the COVID-19 crisis
Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels



What Parents Can Do

The most important thing for both children and parents right now is to have some form of a consistent routine. However, many parents may be feeling overloaded by the amount of work and activities that schools are sending home for their students.


To remedy this, and balance the necessity of the children’s education and the parents’ work, parents can choose the crucial subjects and cut out the extra activities that may require them to oversee and help young children navigate.


For parents who need to get work done, play time or free time can be a crucial part of the routine. This should include independent activities that kids can enjoy without the guidance of parents. Though DIY projects can be fun, some parents may need to rely on bikes, scooters, board games, jump ropes, chalk, coloring supplies, and other independent forms of entertainment.


And most importantly, when parents do have the time, it is beneficial for both parents and children of all ages to take a break from their separate screens and spend face-to-face time that everyone is lacking right now.



What Teachers Can Do To Help Students Emotionally

1. Communication


Communication is key to assess students’ mental states and support students emotionally through this challenging time. Many students may be encountering additional struggles with their families and study demands.


Give students the chance to express their mental and emotional states, and receive support from their teachers. Giving a daily multiple choice question assessing moods can include, “I’m good,” “I’m okay,” “I’m struggling,” and so on. An even simpler response can include emojis depicting students’ moods.


If you conduct classes over video calls, take a few minutes before the lesson to chat and ask how students are coping with work loads, assignments, or home situations. Any form of communication (phone, text, email, group discussion, etc.) will be beneficial for students and help everyone feel more connected.


For younger students, communication can also be in the form of calling parents. Both parents and students may be struggling, and teachers can help stay connected by reaching out to a few families each day.



Teachers and students can stay connected through many different modes during the COVID-19 pandemic
Photo by Julia M Cameron from Pexels



2. Consistency


Schedules and routines are very important for students, especially during a crisis. For younger students, help parents by sending home sample schedules of a typical day’s routine in the classroom. It may be comforting for students to have their usual school schedule at home, even if alterations may be necessary.


Another way to keep students’ schedules consistent is to create some way to continue class projects, activities, and social meet-ups at home. If your class usually has group discussions in the morning, find a way to conduct it over video. If your class was in the middle of presenting reports, you can have students video their reports for the class.



3. Emotional Support


Help students identify what activities or tools they can use during a challenging time, or when they are experiencing overwhelming emotions. Ask students which activities make them happy or calm them down, and offer your own suggestions for students to implement in a time of crisis. As a teacher, you can also ask students to identify supportive people around them that they can go to for help.



4. Stave Off Boredom


Along with schedules, you can also send parents and students suggestions for fun things to do at home to stave off boredom. Whether they are educational or just fun and creative, activities will help students fill their time and get away from the many screens that may be filling the rest of their day.



What Teachers Can Do To Help Students In The Classroom

1. Don’t Avoid The Topic


Though many teachers may want to show that it’s “business as usual,” students can actually benefit from teachers addressing the crisis and the way that it is inevitably affecting the classroom.


Openly acknowledge that both teacher and students may be experiencing unique difficulties with new technology, workloads, isolation, and household arrangements such as limited computers or quiet rooms to take online classes and work on assignments.



2. Provide Class Forums


In order to encourage social connection during a time of isolation, teachers can provide class forums for students to discuss class material, work on projects together, or just meet up. Forums will help teachers and students stay connected and continue class-like discussion when face-to-face discussions are not possible. This will help students engage in the class material as well as provide them with a dependable school structure.



Students can engage in class forums in order to stay connected and engaged in the material
Photo by fauxels from Pexels



3. Process Through Assignments


In addition to not avoiding the topic, teachers can help students process current events and their emotions surrounding it by assigning work that gets students engaged in the topics. This may include writing assignments that ask students to focus on the effects of the pandemic on certain aspects of life — such as business or schools, or certain minorities such as small business owners or communities. Assignments can also engage the students’ emotions by asking them how the crisis may have affected them personally, and what lessons they are taking from the experience.



4. Tweak The Workload


With the acknowledgment that many may be struggling with the unique difficulties of distance learning and home situations, it is important to tweak the workload with this in mind. This may include grading forums instead of the usual tests, excusing absences when students are unable to attend live classes, moving material and grade percentages around on the syllabus, and overall being compassionate for the hiccups and technological difficulties that many students and teachers may be running into right now.



What Teachers Can Do To Stay Sane

Teachers, students, and parents are all coping with different difficulties. Here are some tips to help everyone stay more centered, calm, and sane during the COVID-19 crisis.



1. Take Care Of Yourself


Especially if you’re putting in extra work to take care of your students or others, it is crucial to take time for yourself and your own mental health. Exercise, good food, time outdoors, and stress relief techniques such as yoga or meditation will help you stay centered when you’ve spent the whole day checking up on others.


In addition, be sure to maintain your relationships if you are under lockdown. If you’re home with a significant other or family members, make sure to spend time with them away from the screens, or reach out to family and friends who you are unable to see during lockdown.



Take care of yourself by exercising, getting outdoors, and dealing with stress
Photo by Jonathan Borba from Pexels



2. Don’t Overload On News


Just enough news is good for staying informed, while too much can add to anxiety and worry. Make sure to take breaks away from high-tension media and focus on positive media instead.



3. Pass On Resources


If you find that your students are struggling, but you are unable to be there for them, try passing on reliable resources so that you don’t burn out. This may be suggesting mental health professionals, university or school counseling centers, campus resources, or online forums. This will make sure that your students receive the support they need without sacrificing all of your time and energy.



Coping With Online Learning

COVID-19 has affected education in many ways. Schools and colleges have needed to switch over to online and distance learning platforms in a short amount of time, with both teachers and students struggling to adjust to a new way of teaching and learning. Students may also be adjusting to the difficulties of studying at home.


Now is a good time to look toward online universities for ways to cope with online learning. University of the People is a tuition-free university that offers degrees completely online.


Our blog contains many helpful articles to help teachers and students succeed in their studies, make friends online, and learn skills for online learning and studying in general.



To Wrap Up…

Teachers and parents can help students by providing them with as much structure, social interaction, and emotional support as possible. A crisis always requires out-of-the-box solutions, and teachers can take advantage of creative ways to keep students connected, engaged in the material, and emotionally healthy.


Hopefully, this article has shown you how to keep students sane in the time of a global pandemic. But don’t forget to stay sane and take care of yourself as well!




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