Adolescents find it difficult to socialize, to engage in post-online learning


MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) – Navigating a busy hallway at Madison Memorial High School is the last thing most students think of.

“They’re having a hard time,” school psychologist Deb Conway said. “Anxiety has skyrocketed. It’s really hard to see in children.

Conway says there is a range of anxiety students experience, from social anxiety to academic anxiety. Other students also struggle with depression.

School psychologists say months of learning at home have slowed social skills now that students are back in class.

“When some of these kids were last in school, they were in grade 7 and then they were isolated for two years,” Conway said. “There’s a lot of learning that happens in two years, especially social learning. “

Marques Flowers, the dean of students at Madison Memorial, says most children are still learning about socializing with each other.

“Half of the students at our school have never been to high school,” said Flowers.

Teachers report that teens are withdrawn or slow to engage with each other. Staff say that when students interact, they have a hard time resolving conflicts.

“I think little things turn into big things very quickly,” said Flowers. “There is an increased form of apprehension, anxiety and tension in students, especially when they interact and manage conflicts with one another. “

Administrators say creating a sense of community can help students readjust and become more comfortable.

Flowers says school activities, like attending sporting events or musicals, can also help build community.

“We want them to feel not only connected to their school, but to their learning and to each other,” he said.

Anthony Ward, the school’s restorative justice coach, strives to give students a space to share their views on social justice issues.

“When kids feel seen and heard, there is an academic connection to academic achievement,” Ward said. “It’s a byproduct of that.”

Teachers are encouraged to allow time for social and emotional learning so that children can feel safe and comfortable in their classrooms.

“It’s been a difficult two years and an ongoing process that we’re trying to go through,” said Conway.

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