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Supporting Students Through A Pandemic

How we can move forward by taking a step backward


Through the continuous and exponential strain that the pandemic has had on the educational system, and on our children, we can do more to help our students by simply shifting our priorities to help them stay afloat, knowing that this too shall pass.


There are many parents with students in the public school system that have had the same concern that since the pandemic began, and it is a concern shared with most current teachers; how to keep students encouraged and successful throughout the school year despite shifts and disruptions due to the pandemic.


The answer, albeit not all black and white, may just lie in simply prioritizing our children’s mental wellbeing above academics. While this may seem contradicting in our children’s grades, it may just be the lock and key to securing our students’ long-term success. One way we can do this is by putting more focus on what they are learning, rather than on grades and test results. By doing this, students feel more relaxed and focused on the actual content, leading to more fulfilled enjoyment in their studies – which coincidentally leads to a higher chance of a successful outcome, even in a particularly stressful time, for some.


While parents – and tutors – have little control over what their children or students focus on in the classroom, we do have control over our own language used while supporting children with their studies outside of the classroom.


According to a poll conducted by CBC before the beginning of the school year, 60% Of Calgary teachers said that their students were not meeting their learning objectives due to the pandemic. And in an article titled Learning and Memory Under Stress; Implications for the Classroom, published by Susanne Vogel and Lars Schwabe in The Science of Learning, it states that when students are under stress, it has higher detriments not only in the short-term, but the long-term as well.


Stress does not only affect how much we learn and remember, but also flips the balance between the systems dominating learning and memory. This is consequential for the nature and flexibility of a student’s memories, and enthusiasm in their studies.


This is not to lay more bleakness over an already stressful situation – quite the opposite. We can learn more simply by listening to our children and students about how they learn best during a challenging time. One-on-one tutors have proven to be an extraordinary tool used throughout the pandemic.


Encouraging collaboration and social learning is an incredibly effective tool to alleviate the stress of grades and focus more on learning. By sitting with a tutor, a student can talk back and forth about the content and have more in-depth conversations around the material. It is within this relational-structured learning that concepts will be understood more clearly, while the mind eases away from the thought of just achieving the passing grade.


If a lack of connection and stability are large reasons students have been having a hard time keeping up with their studies, a consistent weekly connection with a tutor who has taken the time to get to know them individually, and the way they learn, will go a long way in ensuring a student comes out of this pandemic feeling optimistic and secure.


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