Teachers say children have fallen behind during the pandemic and lack basic skills

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Teachers across the country report that their young students have fallen significantly behind in basic life skills, like tying their shoes, following school closures during the pandemic.

“There’s a huge divide that goes beyond academics, it has to do with the social and emotional components and just how to behave in school,” Dan Domenech, executive director of the American Association of School Administrators, told the Washington Post. “It’s something young kids haven’t learned.”

teachers across the country told the outlet that students, ranging from pre-kindergarten to even some middle schoolers, have fallen behind on life skills during remote learning, and many are struggling with basic activities, including including cutting along a dotted line with scissors, twisting a plastic cap, squeezing a bottle of glue, an appropriate amount of adhesive comes out, and engaging in more playground gaiters.

Classroom with empty wooden desks. (Stock)
(Stock)

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“You would say, ‘Okay, can you show me how to tie your shoes?’ and most of them were looking at me, like, really confused,” Christine Jarboe, a first-grade teacher in Fairfax County, said of her students. “They really didn’t even know where to start.”

Another educator – Jenna Spear, a naturalist teacher from New Hampshire – said she noticed second graders who were back in class this year didn’t know how to sit when she read them a book.

“Normally, when we read a story in CE2, children know how to sit so everyone could see the footage,” Spear said. “But you would have kids standing in front of, like, right in front of everyone.”

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An expert told the Washington Post that children are expected to lack these skills after missing in-person instruction, in some cases, for more than a year.

“A lot of early schooling in the United States is socialized, learning to sit still and listen quietly,” said Yale psychology professor Frank Keil.

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The news that students are falling behind in life skills comes after numerous reports that children are also falling behind academically. A study published last month by an educational software company Renaissance learning found that students performed worse academically in the second year of the pandemic than the first.

Louisville schools are open for in-person learning LOUISVILLE, KY - MARCH 17: A teacher walks among masked students seated in a social distancing class session at Medora Elementary School on March 17, 2021 in Louisville, Kentucky .  Today marks the reopening of Jefferson County Public Schools for in-person learning with new COVID-19 procedures in place.  (Photo by Jon Cherry/Getty Images)

Louisville schools are open for in-person learning LOUISVILLE, KY – MARCH 17: A teacher walks among masked students seated in a social distancing class session at Medora Elementary School on March 17, 2021 in Louisville, Kentucky . Today marks the reopening of Jefferson County Public Schools for in-person learning with new COVID-19 procedures in place. (Photo by Jon Cherry/Getty Images)
(Getty Pictures)

“All signs suggest this will be a multi-year recovery,” Gene Kerns, vice president and chief academic officer at Renaissance, said in a statement.

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For students in grade one or younger, for example, reading scores were “concerning”, according to the study. Kindergarten to 12th grade students, overall, recorded lower scores in math and reading in the 2021-2022 school year compared to the same period the previous year.

Teenagers, meanwhile, saw an increase in mental health issues ranging from lingering feelings of loneliness to suicidal thoughts last year amid school closures and restrictions imposed by the government during the pandemicaccording to a recent CDC study.

Fox News’ Audrey Conklin contributed to this report.