Elementary School Enrichment During the Pandemic

How remote learning affects elementary students.

Elementary School Enrichment During the Pandemic

Carolyn Kaefer, Staff Writer

For the most part, childhood was the period in our lives where we lacked stress; it was pure fun and play every single day. Elementary school classrooms were filled with fun games to get us learning; eating lunch was rushed so there was more time on the playground; and there was nap time with a book and blanket once a day. Elementary school was a blissful period for almost all students.

However, this is not the case for how elementary school is being tackled right now. Unless you have a younger sibling, have you ever thought about the long term impacts or downsides from the remote learning experience for young students today? I couldn’t imagine doing online school as a kid; it would simply take all the fun out for me. Missing out on playing with my friends on the playground or in the classroom, going to the scholastic book fair and picking up books, and hanging in the computer lab.

I took it up with my eight-year old nephew, Ashton, and tried to understand how school is going for him. Ashton is a social butterfly and I can only imagine  how hard it is for him not to interact with the other kids. He was so happy when I asked if he wanted to be interviewed, he gave several silly answers, but among those he was able to tell us the pros and cons of life as a kid at this time.

Right away, the first question that came to mind was if his classes had online games at least since they can’t participate together in person. He went on to saying there really is not a whole lot of play time. However, he said he does enjoy playing “Fraction Strips” during his math class. This was extremely shocking to hear that his favorite game during e-learning was a fraction game. Instead of the ones which I remembered playing, such as CoolMath. During free time, I vividly remember my elementary class played Poptropica. Especially if his favorite subject was math, he continued to say that seemed to be the only game time he gets online. 

The best part about the games we played in elementary school was when we had others to play with us. 

“The only time I talk to them is when we say ‘good morning’ or ‘good afternoon,’” he said.

Ashton sits in class only listening to his teachers, barely talking with the other kids. Not only is there a lack of time in person with other kids, there’s more time with parents. He mentioned how in the beginning it was “awesome” to be with them all day, but now it isn’t because they both are working virtually and he now does small chores around the house during his breaks.

During the summer/fall, Ashton would also play tennis with other kids his age. He recently got a chance to play others at a local country club. He’s done exceptionally well at playing tennis, but it seems that tennis is the only interaction he gets with other kids.

Even though he’s only eight, Ashton understands the seriousness of the Covid-19 pandemic, and mentions he will not hesitate to tell another kid to fix or put on their mask. 

What about during their free time? Having all that time after class or in between classes with not much outside to do seems challenging for kids. Ashton, along with several other kids I have seen, seem to be obsessed with iPads. He spends majority of his time on YouTube watching whatever videos related to Paw Patrol he’s able to find. Knowing he’s on his iPad for a large amount of time, I asked him to go and find his Screen Time in his settings. Ashton had an average screen time of 7 hours each day. Not including his Zoom classes, as those are on a separate computer. Too much screen time can impact developing social skills and real discussions with others. I opened the idea to Ashton that if he’s going to use his iPad for a long period of time, he should at least call one of his friends or family members instead of wasting hours on YouTube.

Most of us have been more wrapped up in how the pandemic would have an impact on us-but we never took the time to understand how it could hurt or stunt those younger than us. They seem to be lacking time and space for socialization as well as fun, and spending too much time on the screen as well as social media. It’s important to be sure to incorporate positive activities or ways for kids to return back to somewhat normal routines.