With every semblance of routine stripped from their lives due to the Covid-19 pandemic, students are experiencing anxieties just like adults. But they may not be able to express or navigate their emotions adequately.
Students in Classes 10 and 12 are especially in a limbo. Many of them have exams left to complete and do not know when these exams will take place on account of the lockdown and shifting timelines. Some Class 10 students have applied to Class 11 programmes in other schools and are yet to take entrance exams in these schools. Everything is hanging in mid-air and this can be a source of much confusion and frustration. So, what can students, schools and parents do about this situation?
It is normal for students to feel frustrated that their period of study is dragging on and that their exams are not complete. “My children are disheartened,” says Syeda Ameena, whose children are in Class 10 and Class 12. “They had slogged throughoutthe year and now they have to wait to complete all their papers. My son has been preparing for BITSAT and COMEDK. Now we aren’t too sure if he can even take these exams.”
However, she knows it’s not just a family’s problem. “This is not a local issue but a global one. At the most, there might be a gap year in education,” she says. “No pandemic lasts forever and neither will this one. Once we get through this, we will look back and realise that this absence of one academic year is not going to matter at all.” It is important for students to engage in their hobbies, take up new courses online, instead of only focusing on revisions.
K S Jyothi, an educator, sees it in a different way. She believes that now Class 12 students have more time to prepare for entrance exams. “Students will get more time to prepare and to also think about their choices,” she says. “Some students may go overboard with preparation. Some may be complacent and take it very easy. Instead of these two extremes, it is important to balance both study and play.”
Many Class 10 students are anxious about getting admissions to new institutes and this is a stressful time for them too. “Once they reopen, schools will not deny seats and no doors will be closed, so students don’t have to panic,” says Jyothi. “If you are applying to colleges, you can always have preliminary interactions with them online.”
It is important to connect with school teachers and counsellors who will help students navigate complex emotions during this time.
Schools can have online sessions and counsel both parents and students.
Prachee Kukreja, a corporate trainer, takes business, strategy and creative management lessons for students, and suggests specific strategies for students during this time.
“I have asked my students to just revise one concept from each subject every day, especially the subject that they find especially challenging,” she says. “I also ask my students open-ended questions to build their thinking capacity. I encourage them to look at the outcomes.”
With Covid-19 forcing us to hit the rest button in our lives, this time can be used for introspection. “A friend’s son is actually using this time to think if he even wants to go to a popular engineering college, which was what he initially wanted to do. He swam like the others in the pool of competition but now that he is isolated and alone with himself, he is studying about different careers, fields, options that would go redundant after this crisis and new trends that shall emerge,” says Kukreja.
While the uncertainty can be frustrating, students can use this time to introspect, slow down, spend time with their families, pick up some essential life skills and find a much-needed balance in their lives.