Current students at both the primary and secondary levels may be facing the largest changes in how they accomplish their daily goals (to learn) during a time when everyone is experiencing big day-to-day modifications due to COVID-19. In addition to regular learning, students are also separated from the service schools offer such as college prep, tutoring, libraries, and counseling programs.
Thanks to a multitude of internet-based computer programs and resources for educators who are teaching online, both education and auxiliary programs for students, such as counseling during these unprecedented times, are still achievable while communicating digitally. Here are a few tips on helping your students cope with changes and trauma caused by COVID-19.
Trauma Caused by COVID-19
Generally speaking, research has proven that children are better at bouncing back from stressful situations than adults are, but the drastic changes caused by COVID-19 have turned the only world they have known on its head. In addition to the obvious, such as some kids' loved ones contracting the virus, there are several other mental health issues that can arise due to the traumatic and unavoidable life changes caused by COVID-19.
Disruptive behavior disorder, anxiety spikes, sleep deprivation, and depression are many issues facing youngsters right now, and though kids are quick to bounce back, it's because they generally have a solid support system both at home, and at school, but the latter must undergo big changes to continue to aid students.
Counseling from Afar
The first steps to keeping children's minds in a good place are simply reinforcing positivity and showing gratitude. A simple, "it's so great that you're doing all of your work" can go a long way for a student who hasn't seen a teacher face-to-face in months and could be feeling left behind. Frequent discussions about COVID-19 and questions regarding what they have heard are also means of keeping positivity and understanding in their heads. These can even be done by email, but videoconferencing programs like Zoom add a bit of a personal touch.
Encouraging anonymity is also a key function of successful grief counseling, and encouraging your students to get in a regular routine (no matter how irregular the system of learning may be) will also help keep the mind focused and add a level of normalcy to their lives. Even things that may seem silly like encouraging them to wear what they'd wear to school, eat what they'd eat at the same time, and enjoy a nice recess in the backyard are successful means for limiting the space the young minds can wonder to regarding COVID-19.
Don't Try to Do More than You're Able
If you are taking the steps mentioned above and you feel a given student is really experiencing high levels of stress and trauma, there are many online counseling services that you can refer your student to, and even help him or her with the process of setting up appointments. Most include free consultation to ensure they are the right fit, and they include: TeenCounseling, Doctor On Demand, Talkspace (live messaging with therapists), 7 Cups (teen support groups), and MDLive's mental health programs.
Your school most likely has a list of their own, so be sure to see what your own counseling staff has to recommend/offer as well.
Further Your Own Education
There are many resources for teachers to improve their means of distance learning, and to really understand both sides of remote education, there's never been a better time to pursue a post-secondary degree online. A Masters of Education Policy can be achieved online, and the skills learned can help prepare you for the changes that will need to come as online education becomes more and more popular, even without disastrous situations making it a necessity.
Ultimately, being there for a student just means listening, and caring enough to help reverse the psychological effects that traumatic issues like COVID-19 can have on youngsters. In the time saved by not having a commute to work, send a few more check-in emails and let your students know that you're there for them in more ways than just helping them learn.