Posted on Jan 27th 2021
The coronavirus pandemic has affected nearly every aspect of life and children are feeling the consequences. Homes became the new schools as virtual learning was recognized as the only way to safely continue education in the middle of a pandemic. Nearly a year has passed since schools first shut their doors and families are still navigating at-home learning. Multiple studies have shown that virtual learning has had a less than positive impact on children and parents are struggling to find ways to ensure their young ones are getting the stimulation they need for healthy development.
The main areas that children are losing out on due to virtual learning include:
The biggest challenge children face is isolation. Social interaction with peers is key to healthy development for young children. Conversing and playing with peers is important for developing self-confidence, empathy, and creativity; improving language and problem-solving skills; learning social etiquette, cooperation, and sharing; building self-esteem, and establishing boundaries. In addition to these important life skills, making friends allows children to connect, feel accepted, and be happy in their schooling environment.
Developing Motor Skills
Toddlers need stimulation and active playtime to develop gross and fine motor skills. Toys, musical instruments, arts and crafts, and other common pre-school activities help children learn these motor skills. The virtual learning environment cannot compensate for the touch-and-feel activities that children participate in during school time. Parents can invest in puzzles, building blocks, and other age-appropriate objects to supplement virtual learning for toddlers.
Loss of Physical Activity
Most school programs have an hour (or more) reserved for physical activity and free play. This time provides children with the physical activity that is essential for healthy growth. Unless parents are consistent about making time for physical activity, learning at home does not provide adequate exercise for children. Exercise is important in preventing childhood obesity and helping children create healthy habits for the future.
Lack of Engagement
Virtual learning spaces reduce engagement opportunities for children. In the classroom, teachers can more effectively prompt children to participate and facilitate group learning activities that encourage engagement for all students. Children that are shy or less prone to speak up in class further suffer from virtual learning spaces as they may feel too embarrassed to speak up online.
While virtual spaces have been previously used to supplement in-person learning, this past year was the first time for most families that all learning took place online. Learning how to navigate the virtual classroom can be overwhelming for many families. Those with minimal online experience may have frustrations with connecting, leading to lowered child participation.
As 2021 starts, most families across the country will continue learning online. It is important to ensure that children are receiving all the stimulation and social interaction necessary to develop into healthy adults; however, ensuring this can be difficult for parents with a busy schedule. Finding kids' fitness classes in your local community or creative play programs can help fill in the activities that children are missing. Romp n' Roll has various fitness and creative programs that ensure children learn motor skills, play respectfully, and develop important milestones. Our staff has developed programs that allow children to grow, play and learn in a safe, sanitary environment.