BOSTON — If you ask 8th grader Omar Diaz about his first day of full-time in-person learning, he’ll have a smile on his face.
“It makes me feel special because I get to talk to many friends now, then I have gym tomorrow, so that means I get to play with people in basketball,” Diaz said.
Notice, the first thing he had to say had nothing to do with learning. For many kids going back full-time is necessary for the socialization component, even if it’s just a few weeks.
“It’s important for their social, for their emotional, and for their physical well-being. The brain is social, and so getting out and being with friends and being in sports, those kinds of things are really important for kids. I think they’ve been disappointed this year,” said educational psychologist and BrainMatterZ CEO Dr. Tere Linzey.
She said to pay attention to your kids, though, because not all of them have the same smile on their faces when you ask.
“A lot of them are anxious. And so, parents are going to need to really talk them through those kinds of things because a lot of this is going to be the unknown,” Dr. Linzey said. “How’s this going to look? Now a lot of kids have actually thrived in this, you know, kind of virtual space, but I would say that it’s less than those who have really struggled.”
Boston parent Victoria Florentino’s kid is one of those who thrived, so she said the best thing for her 7th grader was to keep him at home.
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“It’s too much of a disturbance,” she said. “It took a couple of months for him just to get used to the classroom and online settings, to go through that again, it’s not worth it.”
Dr. Linzey said if you see your kid struggling as they go back, they may need some intervention before the end of the year or this summer, both educationally and socially.
“It could be helpful from the socialization standpoint, and for letting kids start to re-engage with their friends and sports and those kinds of things and then carry that on into the summer because there’s going to be a lot of remediation that’s going to be needed this summer,” she said. “Hopefully parents are going to get their kids in programs, brain programs as well as sports programs.”
The same goes for parents keeping their kids at home.
“It’s been hard as a parent, it’s really hard to have him in the house because I have to work, I have to schedule how to make it fit, but I feel that he is safer being at home,” Florentino said.
As for Omar, he did elaborate on the other reason he’s excited to be back in school full time.
“I can finally go back to finally a normal school schedule and I can finally not be distracted at home,” Omar said.
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