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Not All Students Want to Return to School

Piedmont Post
March 2021
Susan Eva Porter, Ph.D.

Not All Students Want to Return to School

A year away from campus has been devastating for many students. Zoom fatigue, lack of social contact, and not enough personal interaction with teachers is driving them crazy. They are desperate to get back to school and to their friends and daily routines as soon as possible. 

But not all students are eager to go back.

The thing that has surprised me most throughout the pandemic is the fact that some of my students are thriving at home. For them, not having to summon the energy for superficial social interactions at school is a huge benefit to remote learning, as is not feeling depleted at the end of a bustling day on campus. Being in the relative quiet of their own homes, and having time to luxuriate in their own thoughts, has been a gift this past year. And some of them don’t want to give it up.

Take Alexa, for instance. Alexa transitioned to remote learning effortlessly. She was able to stay motivated with her coursework because she no longer experienced the social anxiety that used to consume her when she was on campus. At home, she doesn’t worry about saying the wrong thing, or not looking perfect--common teenage preoccupations that kept her on edge during in-person learning. Alexa has blossomed in the comfort of her own home, something her teachers and peers have noticed. 

So how can parents help students like Alexa--the introverts--readjust to a return to campus?

First, if your child is an introvert, and if they have liked being at home, start by acknowledging this fact. Especially for older students, those who consume a lot of media and understand the national push to return to campus, they may feel hesitant to share their feelings. Being an introvert is a challenge at school, and so let them know their feelings are normal.

Second, honor their introversion. This is especially important if parent(s) are extroverts and aren’t hardwired to love peace, quiet, and solitude. As your child transitions back to school, consider creating introverted family rituals, like reading books in the same room, or having planned quiet time during family activities, such as car rides or walks.

Finally, make sure your introverted child has ample time in the evenings and on weekends to recover from the energy-drain that is school. Don’t push them to be social or engage in too many activities. Let them readjust to the “real” world, which is a very extroverted world, at their own pace. They will thank you for it.

Dr. Susan Eva Porter is the Head of School at Orinda Academy, an intentionally small independent high school that supports students who think and learn differently. She can be reached at sue@orindaacademy.org.