Back to school has been quite the journey and so different for each family this year. Since returning to school in person and sharing conversations with friends, our kiddos have been experiencing some unexpected emotions.
I had been prepared for the complaining about masks, quarantines, limited transitions through the building, and less than awesome lunches delivered to class. Yet, those complaints seem to be minimal. Instead, these are the things that have bothered my 3rd grader and her friends:
COVID is Real…
For nearly six months, we stayed inside and chatted about germs and why we couldn’t visit family and friends. There were minimal store visits, summer camp was canceled and vacation was just a dream. Yet, COVID seemed to still be such an invisible issue for kids. Now with a constant conversation, temperature checks at arrival, and non-stop hand sanitization for 8 hours a day COVID is just now becoming real for kids. The increased anxiety of what’s to come, not being able to mix groups and big ropes separating or closing off jungle gyms have made COVID real for the first time for many children. Although parents have quietly obsessed about this reality for months our kids were shielded from so much of what it all meant and with the return to school kids are digesting the severity for the first time.
I miss my friends!
It seems like every child was so excited to return to school because they missed their friends. Well, we are in school and because of “static groups” kids are still missing their friends because they weren’t lucky enough to share a homeroom with their bestie. It has been frustrating for so many kids who were expecting to spend recess and P.E. with their friends and they are still missing each other when they’re in class 30 steps away.
Aftercare is not much fun
For years aftercare has been the highlight of the day. It was designated time to run around with friends or explore a new hobby or sport after the 3 o’clock bell rang. Now they are missing that time spent with a friend in a different class or grade, building relationships with an after school teacher or librarian. Now, aftercare looks very different or is non-existent at many campuses. Kids are either staying with their static group, or at minimum their grade level. Many afterschool programs have limited enrollment or paused in-person programming all together. What had been such an exciting and enriching part of the day is now a drag or gone. Again, for six months COVID was just a word and now kids are seeing the impact for the first time.
When preparing to return to school I played various scenarios and weighed many pros and cons. I tried to think of all the ways to prepare my kids for school during a pandemic but I can say that these were definitely unexpected and new territory that I was not quite ready to navigate.
What have been the biggest hurdles your little ones have had to overcome with in-person learning?