How Is Not Going to School Affecting Children during the Pandemic?

Not being able to go to school is certainly not a good thing for our children. The lack of socialization and, in many cases, the absence of technical resources to continue their studies online, opens up new problems in this confined scenario. What are the effects of not going to school on our children?
How Is Not Going to School Affecting Children during the Pandemic?
Valeria Sabater

Written and verified by the psychologist Valeria Sabater.

Last update: 15 November, 2021

The effects of not going to school on children during the pandemic go beyond mere boredom or lack of socialization. These children have already been dubbed the “coronavirus generation”, and they may suffer serious cognitive, academic, and emotional consequences. And, something that’s even more serious, is that this will cause an even more evident gap among people with fewer resources.

The coronavirus and the current pandemic scenario have changed all the foundations we had built society on. Beyond the confinement, beyond even the economic scenario, closed borders, and sky without planes bringing tourists, there’s something deadly serious going on.

On the one hand, there’s the disease itself and its devastating effects. Then, there are the personal stories of each family, with their anguish about the future and the uncertainty of what will happen tomorrow.

However, there’s a more sensitive area and this is, of course, our children. They’re living out this reality in silence, processing it in their own particular way and suffering one of the most striking consequences of this current situation: no traditional schooling.

More than 300 million students around the world have seen their academic years interrupted. In countries such as Italy, the educational authorities passed all students automatically.

Most of them are trying to solve the problem through online classes. But there’s a digital divide here. Not all families have the means and, what’s even more remarkable, is that a large percentage of our schools still aren’t prepared for remote education.

Children working on a laptop.

Five effects of not going to school on children during the pandemic

Children and teenagers will remember these days for a long time. Each of them will process this situation in their own way, according to their individual experiences.

Some will lose family members as a result of the coronavirus. Others will remember the anguish felt at home and transmitted through their parents’ faces and conversations. On the contrary, others will have good memories of the time they spent at home.

We can’t predict what tomorrow’s generation, involving our society’s younger generation, will look like. However, we can say that their worlds will undoubtedly change. One of our greatest concerns is to discover the effects on children of not going to school during the pandemic.

This is something that agencies such as UNESCO are already anticipating through reports and estimates. Let’s have a look at their report.

The most negative effects on children aged four to seven

The lack of regular schooling may affect younger children the most. In particular, those who are still in the process of learning to read and write.

During the ages of four and seven, children make a great qualitative leap in which cognitive, motor, attention, and executive processes are the keys to developing reading and writing skills.

Obviously, they can continue with this task at home. If they have good support from their families, they won’t be unduly affected. However, if that support doesn’t exist, then they may take a longer time to acquire these skills.

Isolation in adolescents

Another effect on children not going to school during the pandemic is mostly on our pre-teens and teens.

At this age, it’s very common for them to become isolated with relative ease. Opting to stay in their rooms and spend hours connected to the Internet but not doing their academic work is another danger.

Families are forced to supervise their work and to make sure they’re studying and doing their homework. All of this can be exhausting and can also be a source of conflict.

Parents in the roles of teachers

Confinement is forcing parents to fulfill (now more than ever) the roles of teachers or lecturers. In some cases, this won’t be a problem. However, not everyone is prepared for this. Not everyone has the patience or even the ability to set aside their own concerns and help their children to continue to advance in their studies.

No, not all homes have Internet or computers

The digital divide exists. We know that remote education is one option and that, if classes can’t be given in classrooms, then there’s the option of virtual classes.

However, we must remember that not all families have the same resources. Millions of children around the world don’t have computers at home to keep up with their schoolwork.

Two children studying.

Adequate nutrition without school food

Another effect on children from not going to school during the pandemic is at the nutritional level. We can’t forget that many children depend on the meals they receive in school cafeterias. Now, if social agencies don’t provide families with food grants, many children will begin to suffer serious nutritional deficiencies.

Effects on children of missing school during the pandemic: academic delays and lack of socialization

Missing the last term will certainly have an effect. There will be content that the children won’t learn, subjects that will remain in the air, skills they won’t acquire, and unique experiences they’ll never be able to live out in their classroom.

For many children, not going to class will be like a holiday. However, there’s one aspect that most of them will miss: the socializing, the routine of the classes, their friends, and that effervescent, sometimes complicated, and sometimes exciting, day-to-day life that also enhances children’s social and emotional development.

We know that the effect of the pandemic will last a while. But when classrooms reopen, the academic and educational world knows that it has challenges ahead.

They need to adapt the educational system to be able to cope with emergency situations like these. They need to put mechanisms into place to ensure that online education is of the same quality as that experienced in the classroom.

Let’s hope this will be available to everyone!

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.