It has been such a stressful and isolating time for so any of us and I fully believe that our teenagers have been left on the shelf. Whilst some schools were able to be dynamic in their approach to online learning, many just did not have the funding or training to adapt and this left hundreds of thousands of secondary aged ( and primary aged) pupils at a loss.
The end of year exam results came of no surprise to me. Many students reported that their year grade average, in some cases, was only 30% for certain subjects. You see, not only did students miss a huge amount of academic knowledge, but they were also forced to experience severe isolation for the first time in their lives and again, schools were simply ill-equipped to deal with this. Now, more than one third of secondary aged pupils have reported increased levels of anxiety, with charities like CHAMs and child line reporting record levels of calls.
But there is a lot of hope.
Attachment based teaching is something I have been doing for many years ... but only recently, I discovered it is now widely accepted as one of the best ways to learn. It stems from learners feeling like they are a part of a tribe: That they are valued and that their opinion matters when it comes to learning and being in the classroom. This type of learning comes from our ancestors and it helps the brain to forge very strong neurological pathways, also known as neuroplasticity. This year I tried, as best as I could, to bring a tribe and sense of community to online lessons and also to the group sessions. It absolutely worked. Most of my students reported that they were either top, or near top, or excelled beyond their predicted grades. It shows that when a child or teen is valued, when a teacher absolutely believes in them, listens to them and wants the very best for them, they feel heard and true learning can happen and stay locked into the long term memory.
Unfortunately, this has not been the case for many student who felt so lost and isolated during COVID. It is really important to have conversations with your child or teen about how they feel now. If they still struggle, have outbursts of aggression or rages or are simply a shell of their former selves, try to support them through getting in contact with their friends, or explore after school activities that they can try where they feel like they are a part of something. Not only will this help to boost their self-esteem, but it will also help them believe they can achieve more because they can grow a network around them.
If you have any questions about ways to help your children or teenagers overcome feelings of isolation, low confidence or anxiety, get in touch and I can point you in the right direction!