TeacherLists Blog

What Students Miss Most About Normal School

by Elizabeth S. Leaver

Nadezhda Prokudina/123RF

After schools closed abruptly last spring, social media was filled with mutual expressions of love and missing between teachers and students.

The new school year is under way, of course, but it’s not quite what anyone is used to—and there’s still a lot of missing going on. Brainly, an online learning and homework community, surveyed some 3,000 U.S. students in middle and high school about what they miss the most about full-time, in-person school.

We also checked with kids of different ages and grades about what they miss most. Those conversations and the Brainly survey revealed both expected and unexpected answers.


On friends

Not surprisingly, 72% of the students surveyed by Brainly agreed what they miss most about full-time, in-person school is seeing friends.

“I miss the playground, especially all the drama,” says Ever B., a 5th grader.

Eighth grader Viviana S. says she misses “having lunch at my usual table with the same friends. We always sit in the same spots and talk about our day.”

Anya V., who’s in 7th grade, says “During the school day I missed having breaks with my class because it was the best time to talk to my friends. It’s not the same online.”


On time with teachers

Districts, teachers, and principals have worked hard to give kids the best learning experience possible, but the differences with remote or hybrid learning aren’t lost on students.

“[I miss] being able to have as much help from teachers with questions I have because we aren’t together,” says Brad L., a 4th grader.

Ever B. agrees with Brad: “In real school, if you don’t ‘get it,’ your teacher can see. In online school you just pretend you ‘get it,’ and your teacher can’t tell.”

“Mostly I missed getting physical help from my teacher, especially with math, which is really hard,” says Anya V. “It’s not as helpful getting help virtually from my teacher as it is when she’s standing right next to me helping me work through a problem. Virtual is also hard when we’re doing timed tests.”

Not to mention teachers’ pesky personal lives: “[Her] four kids kept interrupting her,” added Anya.


On sports and other activities

Organized school sports ranked the highest in Brainly’s survey as students’ most-missed school activity and occurrence (15.8%).

“I missed everything about soccer,” says Meaghan M., a 5th grader.

In commenting on a friend’s disappointment about their district canceling fall sports, Viviana S. adds, “I get it. That’s what theater is for me and I’ll miss being in the school plays the most.”


On school itself

In Brainly’s survey, responses about what kids miss about actual school ranged from getting an A+ on an assignment (10.8%) to some more unusual replies like the fluorescent lighting and class desks (15%).

“[I miss] just getting to see everyone and my specials classes (art and gym),” says Emily S., a 4th grader.

The hardest part for Viviana S. is “(Not) having a routine. Just a regular school day, in a full classroom, and knowing what to expect. Nobody knows what to expect this year.”

Jack B., a 10th grader, agrees: “I miss the consistent schedule. Having something to do every day.”


In addition to what kids missed, Brainly also reported that the students they surveyed by their stress level as extreme (27.6%) or severe (19.7%) in terms the upcoming school year in comparison to past school years. The younger set in our informal conversations doesn’t necessarily agree.

Meaghan M. says her school-related anxiety has decreased during the pandemic because she gets to spend more time with her family. Again, Ever B. agrees.

“Stress is for parents,” she reports.

These days, few would disagree.


For a closer look at Brainly’s survey, download the pdf.

Originally posted 2020

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