There has been a lot of talk about the impact of the pandemic on the academic trajectory of our children. There is no doubt that all of us, whatever age we are, have felt the affects of current events. As adults, we tend to categorize affects relative to how WE are affected. Lost work, stress, feeling cut off. All valid topics. But reality for our children is somewhat different. Depending on their ages, the impact may be mainly social, or predominantly academic. What I am seeing in my own class has been multi-faceted.
It isn't all bad. Far from it. Families have reconnected and found the beauty of simply spending time together. The over scheduled life style came to a halt. Parents were able to marvel at the depth and nuance that their child's interests brought. Many had the opportunity to be integral in the beginnings of reading and writing. What a gift! Meals are being eaten together again. And children practiced what it meant to be patient and understanding as parents worked from home. But as we moved back into the classroom, some affects of this "new normal" became evident as they relate to your children.
First of all, they miss their friends, and social interactions outside of home. The impact of the social shrinking is definite. Times past, a child outside of preschool would have many opportunities for socialization. Trips to the store, outings to the zoo, playdates in the park, these are all socialization. These chances to broaden horizons were very limited. The main impact I'm seeing is many children having little idea of how to function away from the comfort of home and doting parents. As excited as they are to be back in a more social setting, they are forgetting how to be part of a group. Interruptions and tattling are at an all time high. They ALL assume that all speaking done by an adult is directed at them. This has made for a louder than normal experience. We have spent many, many lessons reviewing Grace and Courtesy.
They are more aware of their hygiene. Handwashing reminders are met with far less resistance. They all can tell you why we need to keep our hands clean. They are reminding each other to blow their nose, or wash their faces when they are dirty. Parents have also been more aware of the impact of pushing the limits when it comes to children feeling unwell. I had almost no calls home for a child to be picked up for illness this year. Because all of us were so much more aware meant that we had very few school illnesses. In years past the cold and flu months would see large numbers of children coming down with various illnesses. The logical accompaniment to that, teachers falling ill, also didn't happen. One of the things we as staff have decided to keep is the masks for illness season. We really don't miss getting sick!
I think the most profound understanding we've gleamed is just how important it is to focus on where the child is NOW. The kids came back to school all over the map academically. As frantic as that felt at the beginning, it's really been a gift. We've had to carefully find the best pathway for each child, appreciating where they are at the present moment while having a reasonable expectation of where they can go.
Moving forward I feel that beyond being grateful to see an end in sight, we also need to internalize the lessons we've been given. Whether that be greater cognizance of how our health decisions impact others, or enjoying an unexpected talent our children enjoy. We don't need to catch up so much as keep moving.