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5 Signs of Homeschooling Stress in Kids

5 Signs of Homeschooling Stress in Kids

The COVID-19 pandemic disrupted life as we know it for everyone. Children in particular faced massive changes in their lives and routines especially related to school. From going to school every day, meeting their friends and teachers, and taking part in sports and other extracurricular activities, children are now confined to their homes, learning via a screen. As home-schooling continues, there are certain problems faced by students in online classes that parents should be aware of. These issues may further affect their children’s health and wellbeing.

Problems faced by students in online classes: Main causes of stress

One of the biggest problems faced by students in online classes is the lack of face-to-face social interactions. For older kids especially, having positive friendships is important as it teaches them valuable social and emotional skills, such as teamwork and empathy. Younger children also learn crucial lessons by interacting with friends, such as sharing and engaging in play. School is usually where a child’s first friendships are formed. While children still “see” their friends online, this is very different to interacting with them in real life. This lack of social interaction could leave some children feeling lonely and stressed.

The lack of physical activity is also included in problems faced by students in online classes. Normally, children would participate in sports and Physical Education classes at school or as extracurricular activities. However, studies have shown a drop in the levels of physical activity among children in general during the pandemic.1 We all know the clear benefits of exercise for physical health. But exercise also has a positive impact on mental health, specifically as a “stress-buster”.2

Too much screen-time is another problem faced by students in online classes. Children have no option but to sit in front of a screen for hours every day. This is despite caution from child health experts about the harmful effects of excessive screen-time3 including disruption to sleep and mood issues.

5 signs of stress in children

  1. Trouble concentrating

Even though online learning takes place at home, the workload for children is often heavier than what it was at physical school. With e-learning, children are also expected to do a fair portion of it on their own, without the personal attention a teacher might give them in the classroom. As a result of this academic pressure, your child may show signs of trouble concentrating on both school and regular tasks.4

  1. Decreased appetite

Changes to appetite – including loss of it – are common signs of stress.5 If you notice this in your child as they remain on a home-schooling/online learning schedule, it could be due to related stress. When the body is under stress, stress hormones are released which could affect the digestive system, resulting in a loss of appetite.

  1. Worrying and anxiety

Does your previously carefree child seem to worry about everything all of a sudden? It could be a result of the new normal education system that involves screens and staying at home away from friends and family. Children often display anxiety and worry when things seem out of their control – which is exactly the predicament the pandemic places them in.

  1. Anger

Humans often resort to strong emotions like anger when they feel insecure, stressed, are confronted with change, or think that they have lost control. If your child is throwing tantrums frequently, or overreacts to minor issues, it might be a sign of home-schooling stress.

  1. Lack of interest or withdrawal

You may have noticed a lack of interest or refusal to participate in online learning activities – even the interactive ones – in your child. This could be due to home-schooling burnout and stress.

What parents can do

  • Help your child balance priorities by drawing up a timetable for them that includes plenty of rest, and dedicated time to complete school tasks and homework. Help your child complete schoolwork during the week so that they can completely switch off during the weekend.
  • Teach your child simple meditation techniques that help them stay calm and focused. Before classes start, sit with your child on the floor, close your eyes, count slowly to ten while breathing in and out slowly together.
  • Get to the root of your child’s stress by dedicating time each day to talk to them about their fears and worries. Often, just talking about these with you will help calm your child. Make sure you offer plenty of reassurance both verbally, and physically through hugs and cuddles.
  • Offer your child plenty of positive attention. This could be when they help you around the house, or complete a school task on their own. If you notice extreme withdrawal in your child from learning activities, speak to their teacher about it.
  • Encourage physical activity at home. Remind your child about taking regular screen breaks and teach them simple exercises – like jumping jacks, running on the spot, or skipping – that they can do. If you have a garden, promote outdoor activities like hopscotch, passing a ball or even a fun treasure hunt.
  • Your child’s devices should not be kept in their bedroom and looking at a screen should not be the last thing they do before they sleep. The artificial blue light that many screens emanate can trigger stress reactions in children, affecting their sleep patterns too.6
  • Provide healthy, balanced meals and encourage your child to drink enough water daily. Good nutrition nourishes both the body and mind and a home-cooked, favourite meal might be just the stress-buster your child needs.
  • Set up regular video calls for your child with their friends outside of school hours. It’s not the same as meeting them in person, but at least your child will get to chat with their close friends.

Learn more about developing high IQ and EQ here.

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Sources
  1.       Rossi, L. et al. Physical Activity of Children and Adolescents during the COVID-19 Pandemic—A Scoping Review. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health. Published on October 30, 2021. Retrieved on November 10, 2021 from https://www.mdpi.com/1660-4601/18/21/11440/htm
  2.   The Mayo Clinic. Stress Management. Published on August 18, 2020. Retrieved on November 10, 2021 from https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/in-depth/exercise-and-stress/art-20044469
  3.       American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. Screen Time and Children. Updated February 2020. Retrieved on November 10, 2021 from https://www.aacap.org/AACAP/Families_and_Youth/Facts_for_Families/FFF-Guide/Children-And-Watching-TV-054.aspx
  4.       Stress in Childhood. MedlinePlus. Updated on November 2, 2021. Retrieved on November 10, 2021 from https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/002059.htm
  5.   Anxiety and loss of appetite. Medical News Today. Reviewed on January 8, 2020. Retrieved on November 10, 2021 from https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/327437#summary
  6.   The Sleep Foundation. How blue light affects kids’ sleep. Updated on June 24, 2021. Retrieved on November 10, 2021 from https://www.sleepfoundation.org/children-and-sleep/how-blue-light-affects-kids-sleep
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Written by Hello Doctor Medical Panel Updated Mar 02Medically reviewed by Hello Doctor Medical Panel