Srinagar: Mehak, a Class 1st student, started attending school two weeks ago. But every day she asked her parents why she was being forced to wear a school uniform. She was struggling to sit in the class with others and felt nervous in absence of her parents.
It is not just Mehak but many children across various schools in Kashmir who are finding it difficult to cope with school routine and classroom lectures after two years of online classes from the comfort of their homes.
“Although, some are enjoying the idea of attending physical classes, others are finding it difficult to get back to the routine they had before the pandemic. From erratic sleeping patterns to the fear of meeting people, kids are facing many challenges as they step out and go back to school,” Dr. Mohammad Abrar, Consultant Child Psychiatrist at Child Guidance and Wellness Centre, IMHANS said.
Is it worrying?
He said it’s not unusual for parents of school students to be anxious about kids going and adapting to school.
“Most kids seem to be anxious about adapting to school time structure, facing the pressures, and meeting others after a long gap. For younger children, it’s about separation anxiety and in the older or secondary school students, the worry is more about the academic pressure, completion of the curriculum, etc,” he said.
How to make them comfortable
Mohammad Shaheen, Pediatric Occupational Therapist at Child Guidance and Wellness Centre, IMHANS said feeling anxious is normal as children start going back to school.
“Anxiety is happening because children got accustomed to a certain way of living for two years. Even after winter vacations, a percentage of kids take a couple of days to adjust themselves to the new routine. Parents are also a bit anxious and the same is reflected in children,” he said.
Shaheen said teachers are advised to understand that physical activity and connecting with their peers, was missing in their kids’ lives.
“It is necessary to get some physical activity and sports back in their lives and ensure that they are more connected to their peers. Some children will adapt faster, while others may take a little while. In that case, give a bit of time to the children, encourage more outdoor activities,” he said.
Shaheen noted that for the first few days, focus on them feeling comfortable and safe in the environment, keep reiterating Covid Appropriate Behavior so that it becomes more of a habit, and ensure they do a lot of group activities.