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Parents notice behaviour changes when children learn remotely: study

School is back in session in Manitoba, with kindergarten through Grade 12 students learning from home this week. But new research shows parents do notice behaviour changes in their children when they’re learning remotely instead of at school.

Despite most Manitoba children learning from home this week, Clara Bernie, a community dietician and program grants manager for the Child Nutrition Council of Manitoba, said many schools have adapted meal and snack programs for the families who need them.

“A lot of the schools are really being quite resourceful," Bernie told CTV News, adding with school happening remotely - not everyone is getting the same access to healthy food.

“There is also a decrease to other benefits that they would get from these programs, the connections that they build with staff and their peers which can have an impact on their social and emotional health as well.”

A new study – which surveyed parents about remote learning – found children exhibited worse behaviour while learning remotely compared to when they were in classrooms.

“Some of the challenging behaviour that parent reported seeing when their children were remote included things like being more aggressive or experiencing more temper tantrums as well as having a harder time regulating and staying focused," said Emily Hanno, a postdoctoral research fellow at the Harvard graduate school of education.

Hanno, the author of the study, said it’s not that remote learning causes these behavioural challenges but rather that remote learning comes with unpredictability and stress for both the child and the rest of the family.

"It coincides with stressful public health conditions in our broader communities and so thinking about ways we can support children and the adults who care for them is really critical," Hanno said.

In Manitoba, there’s also the uncertainty about how long remote learning may last in the province.

“It makes it really hard to plan certain things and we know this, that these kids thrive off of routine," said Dr. Jay Greenfeld, a clinical psychologist.

Greenfeld said it helps to accept that you don’t have control over the situation.

“But we are always in control of our response to what happens," he said.

With the tight turn to remote this time around Bernie hasn’t heard how schools in Manitoba are doing with their meal programming. But based on previous waves, she knows it’s a priority.

“All across the province we saw volunteers and teachers just putting in so much work and time into putting together food and delivering it to students," she said.

The Child Nutrition Council of Manitoba works with 271 different school meal programs and reaches about 33,000 students every day. Top Stories

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