Giving kids a break is the best way for them to ‘catch up’ after a year of disruption | John McMullen
Studies have shown that promoting wellbeing through play goes a long way to boost academic outcomes
Across the UK schools are again preparing for a phased or full return of pupils to the classroom. Most weary parents, compassionate teachers and lonely kids will be delighted to see this day come, but concerns remain about the effect that protracted school closures have had on our children and young people.
Much of the debate has focused on how to help pupils “catch up” on their “lost learning”. This narrative is profoundly unhelpful and potentially damaging, due to the psychological pressure it places on children and young people. It’s our national obsession with summative assessment that makes children feel that they have “fallen behind” if they haven’t learned certain things at certain times. But in every year group, pupils are at various stages of cognitive, physical and emotional development. There is no such thing as “behind”, there is only where children are at. Besides, if we truly believe that everyone can be a lifelong learner, then a few months of parents struggling to teach phonics is a brief bump on their educational journey.
Dr John McMullen is an educational psychologist, and a senior lecturer at Stranmillis University College and Queen’s University Belfast