BACK TO SCHOOL CHOICES:

MENTAL HEALTH OR COVID RISK

THE ONLINE OPTION: ISOLATION IMPACT & MENTAL HEALTH

Kids are not meant to be left at home alone several hours a day for weeks or months at a time without social interaction. Just ask any latchkey kid from the 90's how they spent their free time and you'll get stories varied from idolizing Saved By The Bell, the start of binge eating disorders, or maybe how that was a time of sexual and drug exploration. Research indicates that children isolated 3 or more hours "tended to show higher levels of depression, behavior problems, low self-esteem, and low academic efficacy" (Doi, et. al, Introduction para. 3).

"HIGHER LEVELS OF DEPRESSION, BEHAVIOR PROBLEMS, LOW SELF-ESTEEM"

As Jeffrey Kluger wrote in Time magazine in July, it’s too early to have large scale studies on the impact of COVID-19 on children and adolescents; however, small scale studies, research on child mental health during different crises, expert opinions, and antidotal parental experiences attest to the impact of the pandemic of the mental health of our children and youth. University of California, Irvine social psychologist Roxane Cohen Silver studies how mass trauma impacts mental health (see 2002, 2020) . She collaborated with Dr. R. Garfin and E. A. Holman on a study revealing that repeated media exposure to community crisis can lead to increased anxiety, heightened stress responses that can lead to downstream effects on health, and misplaced health-protective and help-seeking behaviors that can overburden health care facilities and tax available resources.

THE HOMESCHOOL OPTION: PARENTS BECOME TEACHERS

On the other hand, parents are not meant to be the unintentional educators of their children. Those that go into homeschooling do so prepared with research, tools, and resources. It is a choice and responsibility they feel equipped to manage. The vast majority of parents decline this role due to limited time, resources, understanding, and patience. Society may not have been founded on two parent incomes, but it is certainly the modern reality in most household dynamics.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, UNICEF, and public health officials and experts from around the world are raising the alarm to families and teachers to be on the lookout for the mental health impacts of pandemic on children, youth, and families.

"Single parents, households with two working parents, and multi-generational households have may have a greater risk for family BURNOUT."

Learning is complex. Even in families who have a flexible work schedule or a stay at home parent, the added burden of parents becoming teachers overnight may create educational disruption. Teachers are trained in a variety of tactics to help students comprehend lessons. Parents know their children better than anyone, but the parent / child dynamic can make it challenging for parents to be effective teachers. You are the rock and foundation for your child. Tense study sessions may disrupt the sense of sanctuary that home provides for kids that struggle in academics. That friction doesn't just impact the child. It can impact the entire family.

Pods have sprung up with individual parent groups to meet the social need of their children to promote student and family mental health while maintaining social distancing. The general concept is a promising middle ground, and unintentionally solves other educational concerns such as class size and individual attention. However, there are also flaws in parent coordinated pods. There is a loose structure, and limited oversight. Teachers are being hired without background and educational checks. Most importantly, there is legitimate growing concern that these parent pods will widen the socioeconomic gap for generations to come.

Pod Connection does pods differently. We coordinate small (5-10) pods of students enrolled in an online district program to meet in person, with a verified licensed teacher, on a dependable basis, at a consistent location. Our business model is created around scholarship and sponsorship programs to ensure that students without financial means to afford augmented education are provided equal opportunity to enroll in this new educational frontier.

Pod Connection is keeping abreast of trends in child, youth, and family psychology during the pandemic and beyond. Our teachers can be a second line of input for parents of remote leaners on their children’s mental health as well as learning. They are equipped to refer to community social services resources, including psychological health and physical health services, if needed, and collaborate with your school and district level counselors and social services.

SOURCES:

Doi, S., Fujiwara, T., Isumi, A., Ochi, M., & Kato, T. (2018). Relationship Between Leaving Children at Home Alone and Their Mental Health: Results From the A-CHILD Study in Japan. Frontiers in psychiatry, 9, 192. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyt.2018.00192

Kluger J. The Coronavirus' Effect on Kids Mental Health Is Deepening [Internet]. Time. Time; 2020 [cited 2020Aug10]. Available from: https://time.com/5870478/children-mental-health-coronavirus/

Helping Children Cope [Internet]. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; [cited 2020Aug10]. Available from: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/daily-life-coping/for-parents.html

Supporting your child's mental health as they return to school during COVID-19 [Internet]. UNICEF. 2020 [cited 2020Aug10]. Available from: https://www.unicef.org/coronavirus/supporting-your-childs-mental-health-during-covid-19-school-return

Silver RC, Holman EA, McIntosh DN, Poulin M, Gil-Rivas V. Nationwide Longitudinal Study of Psychological Responses to September 11. JAMA. 2002;288(10):1235–1244. doi:10.1001/jama.288.10.1235

Garfin, D. R., Silver, R. C., & Holman, E. A. (2020). The novel coronavirus (COVID-2019) outbreak: Amplification of public health consequences by media exposure. Health Psychology, 39(5), 355-357. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/hea0000875

Mental Health Facts Children and Teens [Internet]. National Alliance on Mental Illness. 2016 [cited 2020Aug10]. Available from: https://www.nami.org/nami/media/nami-media/infographics/children-mh-facts-nami.pdf

Fighting Family Burnout During the COVID-19 Crisis [Internet]. Fighting Family Burnout During the COVID-19 Crisis | McLean Hospital. 2020 [cited 2020Aug10]. Available from: https://www.mcleanhospital.org/news/fighting-family-burnout-during-covid-19-crisis

BACK TO SCHOOL CHOICES:

MENTAL HEALTH OR COVID RISK

THE ONLINE OPTION: ISOLATION IMPACT & MENTAL HEALTH

Kids are not meant to be left at home alone several hours a day for weeks or months at a time without social interaction. Just ask any latchkey kid from the 90's how they spent their free time and you'll get stories varied from idolizing Saved By The Bell, the start of binge eating disorders, or maybe how that was a time of sexual and drug exploration. Research indicates that children isolated 3 or more hours "tended to show higher levels of depression, behavior problems, low self-esteem, and low academic efficacy" (Doi, et. al, Introduction para. 3).

"HIGHER LEVELS OF DEPRESSION, BEHAVIOR PROBLEMS, LOW SELF-ESTEEM"

As Jeffrey Kluger wrote in Time magazine in July, it’s too early to have large scale studies on the impact of COVID-19 on children and adolescents; however, small scale studies, research on child mental health during different crises, expert opinions, and antidotal parental experiences attest to the impact of the pandemic of the mental health of our children and youth. University of California, Irvine social psychologist Roxane Cohen Silver studies how mass trauma impacts mental health (see 2002, 2020) . She collaborated with Dr. R. Garfin and E. A. Holman on a study revealing that repeated media exposure to community crisis can lead to increased anxiety, heightened stress responses that can lead to downstream effects on health, and misplaced health-protective and help-seeking behaviors that can overburden health care facilities and tax available resources.

THE HOMESCHOOL OPTION: PARENTS BECOME TEACHERS

On the other hand, parents are not meant to be the unintentional educators of their children. Those that go into homeschooling do so prepared with research, tools, and resources. It is a choice and responsibility they feel equipped to manage. The vast majority of parents decline this role due to limited time, resources, understanding, and patience. Society may not have been founded on two parent incomes, but it is certainly the modern reality in most household dynamics.

"Single parents, households with two working parents, and multi-generational households have may have a greater risk for family BURNOUT."

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, UNICEF, and public health officials and experts from around the world are raising the alarm to families and teachers to be on the lookout for the mental health impacts of pandemic on children, youth, and families.

Learning is complex. Even in families who have a flexible work schedule or a stay at home parent, the added burden of parents becoming teachers overnight may create educational disruption. Teachers are trained in a variety of tactics to help students comprehend lessons. Parents know their children better than anyone, but the parent / child dynamic can make it challenging for parents to be effective teachers. You are the rock and foundation for your child. Tense study sessions may disrupt the sense of sanctuary that home provides for kids that struggle in academics. That friction doesn't just impact the child. It can impact the entire family.

Pods have sprung up with individual parent groups to meet the social need of their children to promote student and family mental health while maintaining social distancing. The general concept is a promising middle ground, and unintentionally solves other educational concerns such as class size and individual attention. However, there are also flaws in parent coordinated pods. There is a loose structure, and limited oversight. Teachers are being hired without background and educational checks. Most importantly, there is legitimate growing concern that these parent pods will widen the socioeconomic gap for generations to come.

Pod Connection does pods differently. We coordinate small (5-10) pods of students enrolled in an online district program to meet in person, with a verified licensed teacher, on a dependable basis, at a consistent location. Our business model is created around scholarship and sponsorship programs to ensure that students without financial means to afford augmented education are provided equal opportunity to enroll in this new educational frontier.

Pod Connection is keeping abreast of trends in child, youth, and family psychology during the pandemic and beyond. Our teachers can be a second line of input for parents of remote leaners on their children’s mental health as well as learning. They are equipped to refer to community social services resources, including psychological health and physical health services, if needed, and collaborate with your school and district level counselors and social services.

SOURCES:

Doi, S., Fujiwara, T., Isumi, A., Ochi, M., & Kato, T. (2018). Relationship Between Leaving Children at Home Alone and Their Mental Health: Results From the A-CHILD Study in Japan. Frontiers in psychiatry, 9, 192. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyt.2018.00192

Kluger J. The Coronavirus' Effect on Kids Mental Health Is Deepening [Internet]. Time. Time; 2020 [cited 2020Aug10]. Available from: https://time.com/5870478/children-mental-health-coronavirus/

Helping Children Cope [Internet]. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; [cited 2020Aug10]. Available from: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/daily-life-coping/for-parents.html

Supporting your child's mental health as they return to school during COVID-19 [Internet]. UNICEF. 2020 [cited 2020Aug10]. Available from: https://www.unicef.org/coronavirus/supporting-your-childs-mental-health-during-covid-19-school-return

Silver RC, Holman EA, McIntosh DN, Poulin M, Gil-Rivas V. Nationwide Longitudinal Study of Psychological Responses to September 11. JAMA. 2002;288(10):1235–1244. doi:10.1001/jama.288.10.1235

Garfin, D. R., Silver, R. C., & Holman, E. A. (2020). The novel coronavirus (COVID-2019) outbreak: Amplification of public health consequences by media exposure. Health Psychology, 39(5), 355-357. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/hea0000875

Mental Health Facts Children and Teens [Internet]. National Alliance on Mental Illness. 2016 [cited 2020Aug10]. Available from: https://www.nami.org/nami/media/nami-media/infographics/children-mh-facts-nami.pdf

Fighting Family Burnout During the COVID-19 Crisis [Internet]. Fighting Family Burnout During the COVID-19 Crisis | McLean Hospital. 2020 [cited 2020Aug10]. Available from: https://www.mcleanhospital.org/news/fighting-family-burnout-during-covid-19-crisis

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