We are living in a time where uncertainty and disparity coincide more than ever before. Our children are living through a global pandemic and expected to be resilient and adapt to changes within our country.
As school districts reopen this fall for a new school year after school closures, it is critical we remember the time away from classrooms has caused increased separation anxiety, depression and PTSD. Quarantine, social distancing and not leaving their homes has increased our children’s social anxiety. The level of fear and trauma is continuing to increase each day.
School districts are implementing virtual learning, some are face to face and some are opting to enroll in homeschool programs. Students are behind on important skills that are taught in face-to-face environments. Social and emotional learning is crucial for children to learn at a young age. It is going to be difficult for children to be taught time management because of the changes evolving each week and the expectations that are difficult for parents to meet.
Many vulnerable children rely on school to be their safe zone. Being away from teachers and peers the last six months has increased the effect on their mental health and their safety. For vulnerable children, school is a place that provides two meals a day and at times a place to rest throughout the day. When children are falling asleep in class, it is important to remember where they are coming from and how their home life is reflected in their behaviors. During this transition, vulnerable children will have a harder time adjusting because of the additional trauma COVID-19 has had on their family.
For a variety of reasons, each family is experiencing the pandemic differently. The key to success is for each of us is to have patience, grace and faith to those around us and extending prayer to those who are struggling to navigate the new normal of working from home and teaching children virtually. Finding the balance of providing education and working efficiently during the day will take time. Establish a schedule and routine to allow transitions to become easier for children.
Poverty, abuse and homelessness are affecting our vulnerable children during the global pandemic we are facing in our country. As we navigate through the adversity as parents, friends, families and teachers, grace is going to be the theme for the months to come.
"But as you excel in everything – in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in all earnestness, and in our love for you – see that you excel in this act of grace also." – 1 Corinthians 8:7
Written by Jennifer Bernal, a foster care and adoption supervisor for Buckner Children and Family Services in Midland, Texas.