By Nico Strydom
Many learners’ educational needs have changed over the past one and a half years due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Learners who formerly performed well and thrived, could probably be struggling now.
Many schools have introduced various measures that resulted in a variety of impacts and outcomes on learners. Educational experts say that alternative options are available to learners who need an adapted approach.
“Many parents often do not realise that they have alternative choices instead of living in an environment that no longer serves their children to the same extent as before,” says Desiree Hugo, academic head of ADvTECH schools.
According to Hugo parents and learners were tremendously pressured the past year and a half, with many learners who previously fared well emotionally and on the development level, who are now struggling. This necessitates considering alternative approaches or specialist interventions.”
Dr Jacques Mostert, academic manager of Abbotts College, says although a child’s school and academic experience may have been suitable and meaningful previously, it is possibly no longer the case. “It could be that the environment has changed as a result of the past year’s experiences, or that your child’s needs have changed, or both. If learners no longer realise their potential, especially with a view to observations the past six months, and if half-yearly reports indicate that there are areas that need attention, parents should review the prevailing conditions and, if necessary, make changes in consultation with professional people,” says Dr Mostert.
According to Mostert some learners perhaps need smaller classes with more individual attention, a learning environment with a more rounded off approach, help with mental and emotional health, a less structured environment or specialist support to make sure they overcome their challenges and realise their potential in the future.
Dr Greg Pienaar, principal at The Bridge, says that over the past year parents have noticed that perhaps their children now have needs that they haven’t noticed before or are suffering from conditions such as attention deficit syndrome, dyslexia, light autism or anxiety.
“Children may also have been sick or suffered a trauma that affected their academic progress. Many children with an average and above average intelligence are confronted by these types of challenges and need an environment with an understanding of and reaction to neurodiversity.”
Some learners were lucky enough to attend schools that could offer a high-quality online presentation during the lockdowns and continue with the curriculum without interruptions. “Some realised that the online learning environment was better suited to their personality and needs and that they are now possibly looking at a permanent transfer to online home schooling.”
If home schooling is considered, thorough research must be done before deciding on a curriculum provider as the quality of the offer and also the outcomes differ considerably, says Colin Northmore, head of Evolve Online School.
Dr Mostert says starting out on a new education path may mean that a learner can simply continue in a differently structured and nurturing environment. “If it is not going well with a learner and parents are getting worried about their present trajectory, it could be worth its while to look for a high school where a learner can continue in an environment that focuses on progressive academic improvement.”