Addressing the Academic and Mental Health Issues Facing Students Today
By: Sarah Black, Senior Campus Admissions Manager
As a member of the Blyth Academy Admissions team, I watched as students flipped between in-person and online learning, with little warning, throughout the pandemic. As a result, I began hearing similar stories from our families. Each student is unique, yes, but they are showing the same set of fears and concerns:
My child is falling behind, will they be ready for university?
Their mental health has declined throughout periods of isolation.
They are not engaged.
They won’t leave their room and are addicted to social media.
It could be argued that our children have taken the biggest hit over the past two years. Their lives upended and milestones cancelled while missing significant periods of schooling. So, what can a parent do to help?
1) Meet them where they are and not where they should be.
Let’s throw out the notion that students can instantly snap back from the instability of COVID. We should anticipate some anxiety around writing an exam for the first time in two years, attending a senior level math class in person for the first time since Grade 8, or a family wedding or gathering. Let’s meet our children where they are and help them get to the next step in stages and through open and honest communication.
2) Get outside.
Students have been isolated and spent more time than ever in their rooms, playing video games and on social media. We need to reintroduce them to the concept of being outside, whether it is for a walk, a run or a trip to Starbucks. Open your windows to let the fresh air in and start slow by getting them out for five minutes one day and then increasing to 10 minutes the next day.
3) Enrol in a summer program to catch up.
At Blyth Academy, we are offering two sessions of summer school in July and August. Our July session runs in person at select campuses or virtually and our August session will run virtually. Both sessions run Monday to Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m., with teacher office hours from 1:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. We are offering a range of courses in math, science and English for Grades 10-12.
Our teachers understand that the last two years have wreaked havoc on students, both from a mental health and an academics standpoint. When students join one of our classes, they will be placed in a compassionate environment where their teacher will work with them in filling the gaps in prerequisite knowledge and help them build back their confidence in the classroom.
4) Fix the circadian rhythm.
Our teenagers have gone nocturnal. Another way to help is to work with them in fixing their circadian rhythm. You can start slowly and work backwards in 15-20 minute intervals. One night they may go to sleep at 3:00 a.m., and the next at 2:45 a.m. By working backwards, slowly, they will eventually be going to sleep at a reasonable hour and will be able to function better during the day.
Your child may initially roll their eyes at this concept, but they can join their love for their phones together with meditation by downloading apps like Headspace or Calm. Both apps walk you through meditation designed at improving sleep, decreasing anxiety, and increasing productivity.
These are but a few ways to help coach your child through the feelings of anxiety, helplessness and isolation caused by the pandemic. If you are interested in learning more about how Blyth Academy can help through our varied programs like summer school, you can contact our Admissions team through firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 416-488-9301 ex 556.
- Blyth Academy News