Lifestyle / Family

Renate Engelbrecht
Content producer
5 minute read
31 Aug 2021
5:22 pm

Have your child’s educational needs changed?

Renate Engelbrecht

The Covid-19 pandemic has brought a lot of changes worldwide, including the way our children go to school.

Covid-19 has changed children's educational needs. Image: iStock

Have your child’s educational needs changed over the past year and a half? With the unavoidable disruptions of the Covid-19 pandemic, a change in learners’ educational needs is inevitable.

Education experts have reassured parents that there are various alternatives available to assist children who are struggling emotionally, developmentally and academically.

Children’s education

In the past year and a half, children’s educational journeys have been thrown into disarray. Many schools have had to respond with mitigation measures that resulted in outcomes that had various impacts on learners.

Learners’ educational needs have also changed as a result of the pandemic, with children who appeared to be on track at the beginning of 2020 now struggling.

Knowing your child’s options when it comes to education for the next year might help you consider alternative offerings that may provide a better fit for your child’s current situation.

Find a learning environment that suits your child's personality
Find a learning environment that suits your child’s personality and needs. Image: iStock

What changed?

According to Desiree Hugo, Academic Head at ADvTECH Schools, “many parents often do not consider the idea that they have alternative choices instead of remaining in an environment that no longer serves their children to the degree it did before.”

There are options available to learners requiring more tailored or niche offerings or environments. Hugo says that the pandemic has caused tremendous strain on parents and learners in various ways. Children who performed well and were doing well emotionally and developmentally before are now struggling, which demands the consideration of alternative approaches or even specialist interventions.

Abbots College’s Dr Jacques Mostert says where a child’s school and academic experience might have been suitable at one stage, it may no longer be the case post-pandemic.

“It could be that the environment changed because of the last year’s experiences, that the needs of your child have changed, or both,” he says.

“Where learners are no longer rising to their potential, particularly in the wake of observations over the past six months, and where mid-year reports indicate there are areas requiring attention, parents should review the existing conditions and, if need be, make changes in consultation with professionals.”

READ: How to deal with emotional outbursts in teens

What changes may help?

According to Dr Mostert, some learners may need smaller classes with more individual attention. Others might need a learning environment with a more rounded approach or more mental and emotional health assistance.

Learners may also now need a less structured setting or even specialist support to ensure that they overcome challenges and realise their potential in future.

Assisted learning

The Bridge’s principal, Dr Greg Pienaar, says that parents may have noticed some additional or different needs in their children over the past year – even things that weren’t there before. ADHD, ADD, dyslexia, mild autism or anxiety could be among these changes. Children may also have been through illness or trauma that could have affected their academic progress.

He says that few mainstream schools, especially in the current environment, are in a position to provide the focused, yet comprehensive support that these learners may require to perform to the best of their ability and to become confident, empowered and self-actualised.

“If you have noticed or have had confirmed challenges that would require therapy, coaching, greater individual attention or the like, it is worth considering a school which will help your child deal with and overcome these challenges while continuing their academic journey,” says Dr Pienaar.

Online home-schooling
Online home-schooling. Image: iStock

Online schooling

There have been schools who were able to provide high-quality online teachings during lockdowns, continuing their curriculums without interruption. Still, most of them were happy to return to in-person teaching when the time came.

During this process, many children found that the online learning environment suited them better in terms of personality and needs and some have even moved over to online home-schooling permanently. This option has also been in review for many families who have been re-envisioning their futures. Families who are considering to move elsewhere may find online home-schooling the better option as it will allow the child’s routine to stay intact.

Evolve Online School’s principal, Colin Northmore, says that you need to do your research properly when you are considering online home-schooling for your child, though “as the quality of offering varies substantially across the board, and so do outcomes.”

Parents need to also investigate the registration and accreditation status of the institution. They must also look into whether the school can provide the highest quality of academic excellence online, while supporting the integrated development of a child through providing ample interaction with peers and educators.

Northmore says: “When deciding on an online home-school offering, prospective parents must enquire about the efficiency of the technology and the logistics of an offering, as well as whether they will have access to qualified educators to step in and assist them should the need arise.”

Non-traditional schooling

It could be that your child may just need a differently structured and more nurturing environment when it comes to schooling.

If you find that your child is struggling, you might want to look into schools that will allow your child to continue learning within a setting focused on progressive academic improvement.

Dr Mostert says: “Every student can develop and achieve academic success, but if you are feeling overwhelmed and in a rut, it is not easy to lift yourself out of this space or even to see the way forward. For these students, an environment that focuses on progressive academic improvement and individual support, instead of strict rules related to, for example, hair and uniform regulations, can mean the difference between continued sadness and success.”

From these past 18 months, it is clear that change and upheaval are inevitable. The world has changed and it no longer makes sense to fight an uphill battle in the form of a non-optimal academic journey. A small change to how your child approaches learning, might just make the world’s difference.