Distance learning taking toll on some students’ mental health

ASHLAND, Ore. — “He absolutely hates zoom. And it’s been pretty difficult,” said Allegra Brucker, an Ashland parent.

For Brucker, distance learning is a nothing short of a struggle.

Her 3rd grader misses his classmates. Her 2nd grader feels nervous about being on a screen.

“He just has very little interest engaging via zoom, has lots of anxiety about it and just really doesn’t want to do it,” she said.

Their mental health is a major concern for Brucker, especially when virtual learning feels forced.

“I don’t want to make my kid do something that he absolutely hates and is making him anxious. I don’t feel like he’s particularly learning much from it,” said Brucker.

“I certainly have seen children and adolescents who are distressed because they really enjoyed the learning process,” said Ashland Clinical and Neuropsychologist Dr. Douglas Col.

Dr. Col says many of his young clients simply aren’t motivated to learn.

“Now, it’s just doubly annoying because it’s online,” he said.

Dr. Col says some kids, however, are benefiting from the isolation.

One of his clients was frequently bullied at school.

“Interestingly, he’s doing fine with his school work because he knows as soon as he gets his schoolwork done there’s a circle of friends out on the internet waiting to play games with him,” said Dr. Col.

Exactly how distance learning will affect kids learning and development long term, Dr. Col says, remains uncertain.

“The honest answer is nobody really knows because this is a large scale experiment that’s never been conducted before,” said Dr. Col.

“Being isolated like this both as parents and children. I don’t know what kind of long term effects it will have, but it will impact them,” said Brucker.

Dr. Col says it’s important to be kind to your kids especially during stressful times and to remember to be patient.

He says distance learning is new for all of us, including teachers.

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