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What do children have to catch-up

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There is a debate on how to support children so that they can “catch up”what they have “lost” during lockdowns with school closure and remote learning.

Some officials have proposed to introduce longer school days, Saturdays at school and to add two weeks to the current school year.

Is this actually what children need to heal the impact of lockdowns?

Is a longer school day or school year what can really help our children (and perhaps teachers and families) recover from the disruptive effects of social restrictions required by Covid?

All the proposals reported by the media (until now) aim at filling the academic gaps; none of them have addressed the issue of mental and psychological support. Or how to look at learning in a different perspective than the before-Covid era.

An interesting contribution to the debate comes from a letter sent to the education secretary a few days ago from a group of 15 child psychologists and educational specialists -who called themselves “PlayFirstUK”.


In the letter they note that:

“This spring and summer should not be filled with extra lessons.

Children, teachers and parents need time and space to recover from the stress that the past year has placed on them.

As part of a wider recovery process, children should be encouraged and supported to spend time outdoors, playing with other children and being physically active. Where it is needed, evidence-based mental health support must be made available…

Social connection and play offer myriad learning opportunities and are positively associated with children’s academic attainment and literacy” 

(Read here the full letter on Reading University website, also reported by the Guardian, the Independent and many other national and local newspapers or download it here

This letter reminds us that learning is a process that doesn’t only grow through school lessons but relies on multiple opportunities, approaches and channels: in short, learning is based on a general wellbeing of children and students.

The school is certainly the most important institution in education beside the family and children need to find at school an environment that understands and considers their creative, academic and human potentials.

If the pandemic is to offer an opportunity to change the view of children from “recipients” into children being “creative actors“, then we could say that it was worthy to go through the dramatic experience of Covid.

Should we continue on the same track and pace as before, then we adults are not learning much from this extraordinary event. Unfortunately.

Let’s hope that this is not the case and that our policymakers will be sensible enough (and creative) to serve us with a surprising human-centred educational approach based on a new slogan:

Children First!

Such a slogan should see everyone being strictly partisan (in this case only…) and siding by the children to support their human-focused development to achieve a human-centred society (including perhaps a human-technology)…

… and yes, I used on purpose the word “human” several times because we need to walk together towards a novel “human era”.


PS: the featured photo of this post shows a creative work that a child made during the winter lockdown. Just amazing!