How are you adjusting to the new school year? Our family is assimilating as best as we can with the recent changes to policies/procedures regarding Covid-19. Despite my opinions and thoughts expressed in this post, my full support is behind every parent’s decision to either send their child to school or keep their child at home.
Our children are experiencing school a whole new way in 2020. From full-time mask wearing to social distancing with plastic partitions, classrooms look very different. The reason we chose to send our children into school is because our town is at low risk for Coronavirus cases. Also, my daughters were not the biggest fans of distance learning in the spring. We feel safe sending them to school each day.
Despite the changes in the classroom and school policies, my daughters are still excited to go to school. Personally I find it hard to believe my daughters feel as comfortable as they did last September. Day after day, they return home with a smile and tales of their adventures in first grade and preschool.
Adjusting to the New School Year’s Continuously Changing Rules
Today is a big day for Ailey in preschool. It’s the FIRST day that all children, three and up, are required to wear masks in school in Connecticut. Truthfully, she is not happy about the change in her daily routine. I know the teachers are nervous about the change as well. Social interaction at an early age is beneficial for child development. It helps children develop strong language skills, creativity, empathy, communication and confidence. We all hope the placement of a mask on everyone’s face, young and old, will not hinder our children’s development.
As a former first grade teacher, I know all about the need for social interaction in a classroom. During any class meeting on the rug, my 6-7 year olds would carefully watch my facial expressions – a smile for good news or a stern mouth for a behavior update. It’s very difficult to read someone’s mood by their eyes, but our children are learning this year. Teachers are going above and beyond to show expression behind a mask.
How Social Interaction Differs in the New School Year
A child’s favorite part of the day is when they can interact with one another. Whether it is buddy reading around the room or math games with a partner, kids look forward to being with their peers. They learn from their classmates and thrive from interaction.
This year Annabelle says she can’t work with a partner in class, but she enjoys playing at recess with her friends. The children wear masks on the playground unless they can maintain six feet apart. Despite the lack of classroom interactions, she continues to come home happy.
Both of my daughters are social butterflies with the gift of gab. They love their friends, but have been told, “Shhh” when their classroom whispers became disruptive more than a few times. I can’t help but wonder, Perhaps the girls will pay more attention to lessons if they cannot whisper with friends? Time will only tell for not just my daughters, but the children of our country.
The truth is – I may be having a harder time adjusting to the new school year than my children.
No one truly knows how the COVID-19 pandemic and the lost socialization opportunities will affect kids. According to Dr. Jennifer Wojciechowski, a clinical child psychologist at Sharp Mesa Vista Hospital: kids are malleable and resilient. Dr. Wojciechowski also states “Worrying may not be the best use of our time at the moment.” She says, “Instead, parents should try to focus on how to improve each day for yourself and your children, and how to find joy in these small moments together.”
The best thing parents can do during this different time in our lives is STAY POSITIVE. Children pick up on the emotions of others, especially their parents, so I try to exude confidence in the changes, instead of fear. It’s also important to keep the conversation about Coronavirus open with your children. Dr. Wojciechowski advises parents to “engage their children in developmentally appropriate conversations and explanations… providing general information about the virus, explaining safety recommendations, recognizing and labeling emotions, and helping kids understand how to cope.”
My ultimate hope is our society stays healthy, our children stay happy, and the pandemic is nothing but a strange memory sometime soon.