What Will Kindergarten Look Like During COVID-19?
I have all the typical worries of a parent sending her kid to school for the first time, but now, I’ve added on the stress of doing it during a global pandemic.
My oldest son, Jackson, recently turned five. This coming fall, I will send him to Kindergarten. Or will I? The CDC recently released guidelines for keeping kids safe at school. But with new information released almost daily, I have no idea what my kid’s first school experience will be.
The CDC recently released guidelines for keeping kids safe at school. But with new information released almost daily, I have no idea what my kid’s first school experience will be.
Because my husband and I both work outside the home, Jackson has been in daycare since he was 9 months old. We’ve always referred to daycare as “school” so that when the time came to make the transition, it was less scary for him (we hoped). He is used to being dropped off in the morning and listening to directions from teachers and socializing with other kids. But as he’s grown up, he’s come to know that real school is somewhat different than daycare.
According to Jackson, one of the most important parts of kindergarten is that you get to bring a backpack to school. Jackson has been carefully considering his options for just the right backpack to take to school. While he hasn’t made up his mind yet, he’s narrowed it down to superheroes or dinosaurs.
Jackson is also not aware that they could close the cafeteria to try to prevent a large group of students from being in the same room. Maybe we’ll just cling to the idea of a really cool lunchbox.
Another very important difference between daycare and kindergarten is that you get to ride the bus to school. This is a very exciting event. Did you know they don’t have seatbelts on school buses?! And you get to sit with your friends?! That is, unless we’re still social distancing and kids should be one to a seat and staggered so as to prevent the spreading of germs. Jackson is not yet aware of this possibility.
In school, you also get to eat lunch in a real cafeteria. And, they serve pizza on Fridays. Jackson is also not aware that they could close the cafeteria to try to prevent a large group of students from being in the same room. Maybe we’ll just cling to the idea of a really cool lunchbox.
Our school district only offers half-day kindergarten. Jackson will most likely go to daycare in the morning, then ride that awesome school bus to school. However, some districts have considered a hybrid program where kids go to school both physically and online. There is a possibility of school starting in the classroom, but moving to online if kids or teachers become sick. This means he could spend even fewer hours in the classroom.
I have no doubt that his teacher will be creative and fun and will plan engaging online activities, but will he be learning everything he needs?
So much of kindergarten is learning social skills, making crafts, and learning the habits of a good student that I’m not sure what that will look like in an online setting. I have no doubt that his teacher will be creative and fun and will plan engaging online activities, but will he be learning everything he needs? As a mom, it’s hard not to worry about the impact this will have on our kids.
There are so many unknowns about school this fall, that it’s easy to feel anxious about your child’s first school experience. But I do know one thing: Whatever school looks like for Jackson, we’ll make the most of it and foster a love of learning any way that we can. I will try not to project those worries onto my son.
While all these rules are new to current students and parents, they will not be new to Jackson and all new kindergarteners. Whatever the structure of his kindergarten class is, it will be the way he’s always known it. He doesn’t know how school used to be. He won’t know if he’s missing out on field day or show and tell. His experience will be unique and genuine.
Whatever school looks like for Jackson, we’ll make the most of it and foster a love of learning any way that we can.
He will have a teacher who cares about her students. He will have a community that supports its school district. We will practice his spelling words and read with him each night to set good study habits. To him it will just be kindergarten. It will not be kindergarten in the era of coronavirus. We’ll pick out a backpack and matching pencil case. Maybe we’ll get him a mask to match whatever backpack he chooses if we must. We’ll send him on that school bus proudly wishing him luck and snapping just one more photo.
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