The new normal hasn’t been easy for anybody. The risk of contracting the virus led to extreme precautions. Many of these precautions necessitated social distancing and the use of masks. Many adults themselves would tell you that the isolation made the pandemic a traumatic time to live through. Grown-ups were left longing for what once was. Children on the other hand are enduring the pandemic during their formative years, and do not have memories of a time before Covid to long for. For many kids, the pandemic is normal.
It has become clear that social distancing has affected the population’s socialization in general. Many took a long time to get reacclimated as friendly members of society. Children of this era are being thrown back into normal life without a chance to get acclimated, to begin with.
“A lot of kids don’t want to take their masks off,” said Amy Bisnett, Associate Director of the JCC’s Children’s Programming. “It’s not that they’re all worried about getting sick, a lot of them just don’t want to show their face”. The pandemic allowed many kids to stay in their comfort zone, making it easy to hide or remain unseen.
“Communication isn’t just verbal, it’s visual. They have to learn to read facial expressions”, said Pamela Ranieri, Assistant Director of the JCC. She regretfully shared that many children are behind in picking up cues. Bisnett proudly shared that to expedite the learning process without endangering the kids, the JCC gave the kids transparent masks to wear during the height of the pandemic.
Technology brought great convenience during these times, but that convenience proved to be a double-edged sword. Many kids found themselves working behind a computer instead of working with people.
While technological skills flourished, many teachers found themselves playing catch up in developing students’ interpersonal skills. On top of that, they’ve seen more speech delays in kids than ever before.
The JCC is lucky to have excellent teachers who understand kids and what it takes to help them succeed. In response to their lack of experience with other people, teachers at the JCC prioritized group work and let the children lead the way. Teachers assigned tasks that promoted socialization. They wanted to teach children to speak for themselves and communicate with their peers, even when it might not be easy for them.
With all that said, there is only so much making up that can be done for lost time. Children repeatedly find themselves in unfamiliar territory that was supposed to be discovered years ago. “A lot of them had never even been on a field trip”, shared Bisnett. “They didn’t know how to sit on a bus, a lot of them were terrified to get on and others spent the whole time crying on the way there,” she expanded.
The pandemic brought adults back into their cocoons. Many were left longing for the life that they knew outside of their shelter. Kids on the other hand do not know the outside world. The JCC is doing its best to show kids that it’s ok to break out of their shells.