Helping students transition back to in-person learning

Posted at 5:17 AM, Mar 04, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-04 05:32:01-05

(WXYZ) — Michigan is transitioning back to in-person instruction. There are many benefits for kids who need social interaction, parents who have been struggling to manage work and remote learning and teachers who want to get back to the more effective form of teaching.

But, with a year of mostly remote and hybrid learning, the transition to in-person instruction won't be easy, and for families, that adjustment needs to start now.

With in-person learning comes getting dressed up and commuting to school. No more rolling out of bed and jumping on the computer for virtual learning. Cass Tech senior Elley Ahmed says sleep is already hard enough to come by.

"I don't feel like I get enough cause I'm always so busy doing schoolwork," Ahmed said.

During virtual learning, teens have been staying up late, but getting up later, too.

"I think it's going to be a really rough first couple of days of back to school," Dr. Terrill Bravender with CS Mott Children's Hospital said.

Bravender said left to their own body's sleep schedule, teens typically sleep from 11 p.m. to around 8 or 9. School interrupts that schedule, and the five to six hours teens get is often not enough.

"We still are impaired in terms of our learning, in terms of our reflexes, in terms of our mood," Bravender said.

He said teens should start moving up bedtime by 15-13 minutes a night in the week or so leading up to in-person learning, and when making that adjustment, don't take a nap.

"Force yourself to stay awake and use that feeling of fatigue to allow yourself to go to sleep earlier that evening," he said.

Another challenge is reigning in screen time, which has soared during quarantine with kids staying in touch with peers through social media and multiplayer online games.

While kids may see each other in school, COVID restrictions will limit crucial casual contact. So scale back of screen time if needed don’t expect teens and tweens to go back to pre-pandemic levels right away.

"Just hanging out with friends in real life is not going to happen as frequently as it used to before," Bravender said.

Finally, those in-person connections at school aren't always healthy. Students subjected to bullying or anxiety before the pandemic may face those same issues once again, including tension over masking and social distancing.

Bravender schools need to enforce safety measures consistently and families should hold schools accountable for providing a safe place to learn.

According to the Sleep Foundation, getting enough sleep can improve teens' mental sharpness and boost academic achievement; physical development and emotional health which is so important.

And we know teens are more likely than younger kids or even adults to engage in risky behavior.

The sleep foundation says the right amount of sleep can lower risky behavior in teens and reduce the number of accidents & injuries.

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