Over the past few weeks one of the most common phrases that we have heard is “one year later and we are back to square one”. With the partial lockdown being announced in mid-March, many of us had a déjà vu of our life around the same time last year. Most shops are closed, going to a restaurant for a sit-down meal is not an option and if you want to get a haircut, you will need to wait. These are some of the activities that have been put on hold; going physically to school is another one.

Last October, most schools opened again their doors for their students. However, not everyone started to attend as those deemed as vulnerable or those children who have a vulnerable family member, did not go back to school. Some children who do not like to attend school may have been glad to stay at home doing online schooling whereas others may crave to go back to school. Some students who attend post-secondary school may never had the option to attend school in person and therefore have had to spend the last year completely doing online learning.

Students may have been looking forward to start their post-secondary school experience but they did not have the opportunity to do so as they had to stay at home to follow the lessons. Others may have been in their final year of studies and wanted to spend such a year meeting on campus with their friends. Thus, this year of online schooling may have brought loss of opportunities and expectations being unmet. Some students may have hoped to go back to school to make new friends, interact socially and have someone to talk to who is not behind a screen. These are a few challenges encountered by students who have been studying online for a year.

Some of the opportunities related to studying at home are that it can be very convenient and comfortable, saving you time which you can use to do something productive or relaxing. Instead of travelling to school and spending time in traffic, you can use that time to complete some schoolwork and then use that saved time to do something you enjoy. In the morning you can sleep in a bit longer as you do not need to wake up early to prepare and commue to school. Being at home can also give you the opportunity to take better care of your health. You can prepare lunch instead of buying food from the canteen which will help you to save money at the same time. In order to have a break and change your environment, you can go for a walk in nature which will aid your physical and mental health.

There are students who have adapted well to studying online and although they have done it for a year, they are happy to do so whereas others, have had enough of studying from home and cannot wait to get physically back to school. If you are the latter, remember that this pandemic will one day pass too. Each situation will present challenges and opportunities, try and focus on the positive aspects. By being able to stay at home you are being safe and avoiding unnecessary risks.

Dr Marilyn Muscat is registered as an Educational Psychologist with the Health and Care Professions Council in the United Kingdom where she trained. She works with children, adolescents and their families to understand more about educational, social and emotional well-being concerns that they have and to help them improve upon their difficulties. She can be contacted on marilyn@willingness.com.mt or call us on 79291817.