What if my child loses skills or hates school because of COVID?

5 answers

Many parents worry about how distance learning will affect their child. And it’s not just academics — they’re concerned about other skills that kids gain from being at school, too. They’re worried it will be a lost year.

We know what that’s like. Parents on the Understood team also wonder how the pandemic and distance learning will impact their child. Here are some of their concerns.

Answer fromGretchen Vierstra, MA

I’m a parent to two middle-schoolers doing distance learning. As a former middle school teacher, I know firsthand what typical school looks like at this age. My kids seem to be making progress academically while learning from home. What worries me is the decline in their social skills. 

Before the pandemic, my kids thrived on socializing at school. They loved working with their peers in groups. Now with online learning, they rarely get the chance to work with and learn from other kids. And when they do get the chance, they complain about it. What happened to my cooperative learners? Will they learn to love it again once they’re back in the school building?

Answer fromVanessa Bertone

Answer fromJon Morin

My child is currently doing a hybrid schedule due to the pandemic. He gets two days per week in person and three remotely. I’m really worried that he’ll fall behind because, while his teacher is very good, two days of in-person instruction just isn’t cutting it. I’m worried that he’s going to lose a year and a half of learning. I’m worried that he won’t be ready for middle school.

Answer fromLaura Key

After the first day of remote kindergarten, I asked my daughter what she thought of it. She said, “Kindergarten is boring. Is every day going to be like this?” I had to fight back tears. 

This is a little girl who loved preschool and was so excited to start kindergarten. I tried to prepare her for distance learning (our school is 100 percent remote) and explained that she wouldn’t get to be with her teacher in person. But clearly it didn’t sink in until that first day. 

Little by little, she’s gotten used to it. Her teacher is great, and I can tell that my daughter is learning. I look for small ways to rekindle that joy she used to have for school. Still, she’s disappointed. And that makes me sad.

Answer fromJessica Cisneros, MEd

As an educator, I’m lucky to be able to support my child at home with academics. But I also know how important connections and social-emotional growth in the classroom are. While teachers are trying to build community in virtual spaces, this is the piece I’m most concerned about as a parent. 

I know my daughter is missing out on valuable social interactions and teamwork with her classmates. A strong school community can help students develop feelings of true belonging, and that’s more difficult to do in a virtual space. 

I know we aren’t alone in our concerns. Like the rest of the country, we’re looking forward to a day when it’s safe for our daughter to return to the classroom in person.

You may not be able to fully control the impact that distance learning has on your child. But there are things you can do to try and keep this from being a lost year. Discover ways you can help your child build and celebrate strengths. And if your child has trouble focusing during remote learning, learn how to spot and encourage “focus wins.”