Trendspotting: Those were the days my friend

As schools across the country ‘prepare’ to reopen in a phased manner, there are mixed feelings that many are dealing with

BACK to school…? It’s a question that most parents don’t want to face or address, with COVID-19 throwing challenges none of us had ever fathomed. From way extra screen time that children were ever allowed, to dealing with safety issues, coping with hours of no human contact, except digital mediums, these months have been about a lot about unlearning, for both students and parents. As schools across the country ‘prepare’ to reopen in a phased manner, there are a number of mixed feelings that many are dealing with. Vaanya, a Class VI student can’t wait to headback to school, meet her friends after months and share a meal in the canteen. While studying online was a new experience, Vanya is quick to add that she has been missing the ‘real’ classroom, bonding with friends and teachers. “I am hoping for schools to reopen as soon as possible and things to be back to as we knew them.”

From curfews to lockdowns, no access to friends, playgrounds, games, sports, friends and most importantly a free spirit, children have had it rough but they smile and find solace in what they can do with what’s available, as they come to terms with the fact that schools may not be completely operational until 2021. Ruhaan Singh, a middle school student has got used to online classes, but misses interacting with his friends and teachers, the recess time, popcorn afternoons, assembly in the auditorium and the ride back home in the school bus. “Most of all, I miss sharing tiffins, my desk and I now know that there’s nothing better than school.”

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Sunaina Singh, a child psychologist emphasises on the flight and fight response during these times, across all age groups. Singh says we all begin with denial, then fight, accept, surrender and evolve. “That’s the cycle and it’s no different for a child. Children never thought it would last this long, then the hiccups of not meeting friends, no outdoor activities, resolving inner conflicts with available resources and finally they started to enjoy the new normal and excelling on different platforms of the online world. Children have been through turmoil. Now they have a new battle of going back to school or not, listening to parents or not, touching their friends or not. The priority is to talk to them sensitively and listen to them. Their lives have turned upside down and they have probably responded to the situation better than most,” says Singh.Jahaan Singh, a toddler in playclass has never seen school but has managed to feel it, “Mama says school will open, I want to meet my ma’am now.”

Tears and anxiety have been replaced by enthusiasm and finally readiness to leave the comfort of home and discovering the joys of school. In the UK, the Mental Health Foundation has prepared guidelines for schools to follow, insisting that immediate help is available as it would be as essential as sanitizing the environment and self. As Dr. Seuss said, “You’re off to great places, today is your day, your mountain is waiting so get on your way.”

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