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Is your child losing focus at school?

by Zahid Jadwat

A new booklet seeks to calm parents’ nerves as they fear children are losing focus at school. It also highlights reading challenges stemming from the Covid-19 pandemic.

The onset of the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020, together with lockdowns and online learning, skimmed attention spans among children. In turn, this has had a negative effect on learning to read.

That is according to Jenny Du Preez, a Johannesburg teacher and author. Discussing her booklet ‘Learning to Read is NOT the Problem’ in an interview on Salaamedia, she said things changed when the world ground to a halt in 2020.

“We weren’t allowed to do all sorts of things in our curriculum which develop reading. You can’t just give a child a book and say well let’s read without first developing their physical skills,” she said.

While it is common sense that children should be able to read and comprehend by the age of 10, she said, “it just isn’t happening”.

If teachers feel they’re having a hard time reigning in childrens’ attention since the pandemic shuffled things, they might be onto something.

Said Du Preez: “We are now four years after lockdown, and we’ve got classrooms full of children who are absolutely struggling. To cover this up, they’re using energy drinks and coming to school with tablets and cellphones.”

A survey last year found that 84% of teachers in England agreed that children’s attention span was “shorter than ever” post-Covid. Moreover, nearly the majority of them (69%) noticed an increase in inattention and daydreaming.

The booklet, freely available online, aims to serve as a “message of hope to parents who are baffled by their offspring’s struggle to focus at school”.


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