Looking After The Mental Health Of Students Taking Online Classes

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Not to sound insensitive, but my daughter, Sherra, was perhaps the happiest kid when the lockdown was enforced in March 2020. She always had trouble getting up early for school, you see. Her father and I had to take turns every morning to wake her up because she loved to sleep in all the time. Hence, when I told her I received an email from her teacher about the classes going online for an indefinite period, Sherra started jumping up and down in excitement.

My daughter enjoyed the online classes at the time because:

• She only needed to get up 10 or 15 minutes before a class started instead of 1.5 hours before that.

• The teacher allowed the kids to have breakfast and eat snacks during lectures.

• There was not much to do since they were close to the finals.

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In other words, my daughter practically played with her classmates online and waited for the exams to come. When I asked her how it was, she said, “It’s easy-peasy, Mom!”

Mid-Year Thoughts

After the summer break, everyone was hopeful that the kids could already go back to regular schooling except for me. The security was pretty relaxed, but we would still hear from the news that the number of positive COVID-19 cases was rising, and most of them were here in the US. I did not want any kid – especially my child – to contract the coronavirus.

I talked to Sherra about it one day, and she uttered that it was okay if she had to take online classes longer. Her previous experience was apparently delightful; although she missed hanging out with her classmates at lunch, they could still see each other virtually. Hence, when the school decided to forgo regular classes until a vaccine arrives, we were happy. My husband and I redecorated a side of our home office to make room for Sherra and make sure she’s comfortable while studying.

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Changes During The New Academic Year 

The online classes went in full swing from the first week since the academic year began. From 8 A.M. to 3 P.M., Sherra would be in front of the computer, listening to the teachers. Sometimes, they would have to draw, do gymnastics, and other activities; other times, they would need to write essays and poems and take pop quizzes. I thought it was too much for a kid, but my daughter never complained and simply told me that she could do it.

We genuinely believed her words until I was working in the office around the same time that she was doing her assignments, and I saw her wiping her eyes and face discreetly. The little girl even turned her body away from me, perhaps hoping that I would not notice it. Then, she dropped her head on her arm on the desk, feigning to be sleepy.

I felt pity towards my daughter and wanted to know why she was crying in an instant. However, I did not want to embarrass her when she was still emotional, so I merely told my husband about it, and we decided to talk to her together once he’s home from work. 

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When I started the conversation, Sherra wanted to deny it at first, but she eventually said, “It was challenging to keep up with all the activities. It was easier to do it in school because I could keep asking the teacher to repeat the lesson if I did not understand it the first time. I was worried that I would not finish everything on time; that’s why I cried. I’m sorry, Mom and Dad.”

I hugged my daughter and couldn’t help but cry, too. It was mature of her to want to suffer in silence, but she was too young to have mental health issues. From that day, my husband and I took turns tutoring Sherra after her classes and finding out which lessons she needed help with. Her hesitation in asking for our assistance was short-termed as she realized that we wanted to support her in any way possible.

Final Thoughts

The pandemic was still not letting up; the school couldn’t open this year. Sherra still had not seen her friends in person since March; the homeroom teacher would only drop some modules at our doorstep every month. It was evident that everything would only return to normal once the coronavirus vaccine was available.

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Other than the boredom that my daughter felt from staying at home for months (as expected), she did not experience too much pressure and worry again once we intervened. She managed to adjust to the new educational setup and sometimes would even say, “It’s okay, Mom – I got this one, for sure.”

As a parent, I could not be happier to know that Sherra was learning to be independent even when she’s in the house. However, I still look out for signs of burnout, anxiety, or even depression in my kid to ensure that she grew up without dealing with the mental burden.

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