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COVID-19: Prolonged School Closure, Online Learning Could Affect Children’s Mental Health–Strauss Prep

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Godsgift Onyedinefu

Prolonged online learning and the absence of social interactions could have an impact on the mental health of children, Ms. Golda Obi, Founder, Strauss Preperatory School Abuja, has said.

Operating under British Curriculum with French as language of early learning, the school was one of the first to leverage on information and communication technology to continue teaching the children through online education during the lockdown. 

While the COVID-19 pandemic have forced schools to resort to online learning methods, Obi stressed that social interactions is very important for the mental health of young children, and they therefore should not be made to stay locked up for a long time.

“Sometimes, we don’t realize that the mental health of little children count because they are not expressive with that but it does count. And we must take their mental health into consideration and in my opinion, they can’t stay locked up indefinitely and just stare at their computers”, she said.

She informed that the Strauss School is planning to have group meetings with its pupils as obtained in the United States of America  to enable them interact socially, if the federal government would permit.

Obi who stated this during the graduation of Nursery Three pupils into year one on Friday in Abuja, described the graduation ceremony as extra special, because the graduands are the first set of full French immersion programme.

“This set of children that graduated today, went through three years of an exclusive French programme, every single subject in the early years curriculum was taught in French and that was amazing. Amazing because, we were following the standard British curriculum, while delivering it, in a foreign language”, Obi said.

“So, these kids you see here today, by the time, they are getting out of school, they are going to be fully bilingual in French and English.

“The pupil who delivered a fantastic speech today in French, when he joined this school at age two , he couldn’t speak French, but now he can learn, read, and write in French. So, I am ecstatic to see that the hard work that we put into this children came topnotch,” she said. 

She further explained that the essence of the bilingual learning is to expand the opportunities of the pupils after school and enable them fit in anywhere, noting that in West Africa, there are more French speaking countries than English. 

She said further: “Now, I don’t know if everyone is aware of AfCFTA, that has come up, when you  look at English countries in West Africa, we are a little bit in isolation.

There are more counties in Africa that speak French, at least in ECOWAS for instance, we are just about five English speaking nations and nine French speaking. So, it is a no brainier , if were going to have AfCFTA, it means that Nigeria that predominantly speaks English, will have to trade with their neighbours, who are French.

“The children my school is grooming are the leaders of tomorrow, the jobs they’re going to have had not even been created, they can write WASSCE in whatever language. They can go to school in English west Africa or French West Africa. The opportunities that our programme will open to them is unimaginable. 400 million people on the planet speak French, so these kids can fit in anywhere.”

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Obi however, pointed out that  children are able to speak simultaneously seven languages and teaching them with two languages will not confuse the children as being speculated.

She said it is expected that children will mix up languages at the early age of two and three, but said as they get  older, they begin to streamline the languages. 

“I have had parents say the pupils are confused, no, it is alright for them to be confused  at the age of two and three, that but where it counts, the important thing is that when they get older no longer be confused,” Obi explained.

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