Psychologist offers tips for helping children transition to remote, in-person learning

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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — Most students across the country are transitioning back to school through remote or in-person learning, or a hybrid of both.

Dr. Erika Geisler is a psychologist and relationship therapist in Wilmington with more than 20 years of counseling experience.

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While the transition from summer vacation to school always requires a bit of adjustment to get back in the daily grind of academic rigor, the COVID-19 pandemic has added another level of complexity.

“One of the biggest things for everyone really is just getting back on routine,” Geisler said. “This has been an endless summer, we’ve all be out of school since March, getting out of our pajamas and back into our routine is going to be one of the biggest challenges.”

She offers a few suggestions for helping children adopt healthy habits for learning.

“I think its really important for everyone to start waking up really early and going to bed at a decent time,” she said.

With so many students using technology with remote learning at home, she says parents may want to refrain from prohibiting children from using their electronic devices once their schoolwork is completed.

“Children with remote learning might be on their computer screens for as many as six hours which is a lot of time but then after that, they may want to game and spend time with friends on the internet,” she said. “Because people are social distancing and socially isolated than they would normally be, I think its important for them to have that time–I can hear kids that are gaming and they are actually carrying on conversations with each other through their games.”

Geisler encourages parents to be a bit more lenient with their children’s screen time as long they are socially interacting with others.

For schools with in-person instruction, rules surrounding COVID-19 can be a bit overwhelming and that’s why its important for parents to have regular conversations with their children.

“The big thing is accepting this is the new norm and rather than trying to buck the system, or resist against it, we need to find a way to settle into this new time, this crazy time,” she said. “I think if we can model for our children excitement and positivity, they will follow our lead for wearing masks, hand sanitizer, hand washing and social distancing–all these things that are now part of our normal lives.”

Geisler does share concerns about the impact these new changes may have on children with developmental disabilities.

“I think that’s really tough because a lot of these children only receive their therapies or treatments at school and they’re not getting them and parents are not trained to do special needs services at home so I think the special needs and developmentally disabled populations are really suffering right now.”

If at any time you or your child are experiencing overwhelming feelings of depression or anxiety, Geisler recommends reaching out to a therapist. A qualified therapist can help you process these feelings and help you to cope during these challenging times, she said.