Updated: Dec 12, 2020
What are children missing during this time that they are out of school, It is not just the academics?
Children of all ages need so much more than learning their ABC’s and trigonometry. They need support and guidance from their teachers, they need comfort and social interactions from their friends and so much more. What do children miss at this moment? And how will this affect them next year, and in the future?
We are talking about all age groups, from toddlers to teenagers, how are they accepting this new normal? How will they accept it once they must go back to school, it will be the same place physically, but the routine, rules, and expectations of interactions will be so much different. These are children, and they learn by pushing boundaries, and bending rules, but this time it is different it is health and safety concerns, when these boundaries and rules are broken.
In my classroom of 36 preschoolers, we prioritize the importance of challenges in the classroom by “health and safety” measures. If the rules and boundaries that are broken interrupt the health and safety of themselves or others, we must put a stop to that behavior or action. Our number one focus has always and will always be health and safety.
However, in my classroom, we most likely will never see that many children in the same space again. There of course are benefits to this and is something that I felt needed to change for a very long time. I work in a classroom with 3 other teaching assistants, and we are based on the Montessori philosophy which finds many benefits in the large, mixed aged group experience. Moving with the times and changing our ways of what benefits we want to have for our children, group size is one that will change for our future. Especially with the “health and safety” measure of our classrooms being threatened by this virus.
The CDC has issued guidelines for what schools SHOULD when they open back up, and then they have guidelines of what they need to do to decide to open back up. These “guidelines” are vague and most are just hard to do 24/7 with any age group.
The problem lies within what is right, what is the safest way to get the kids back into school, so that that their parents can get back to work, without jeopardizing the health and safety of each other.
Children are going through a hard time, they are missing their friends and their routine, and playdates. When in school you learn a vast variety of different lessons in different ways, within different domains of development. Children learn in different ways, you can throw papers at them to complete and tests for them to pass, and some children do well learning that way, others need hands-on experiences, visuals, and more support to get to the expectation of the lesson. Distant learning has come a long way in just 2 months, and it is amazing, and it may be a part of our future for classrooms, but academics aside. What else do children need?
When we talk about social-emotional development especially at the foundation when the children young. We are talking about:
interactions with other children and adults
relationships with other children and adults
Identity of self in relation to others
Expressing of emotions
These focuses for children are done best in group experiences, around their peers, inside the classroom with expectations. Inside the classroom they will receive the support and guidance from their teachers, and the environment that is enriched and full of opportunities for them to learn in different ways.
The question is what do we do? How do we support our children and keep them safe? I completely understand that parents need to get back to work. I understand that in the world we live in BOTH parents need to work to make ends meet. Maybe that is something that we need to address. How do we let parents balance being parents without stressing out about money, and bills and providing for their family? I would love to see that parents could both work part-time hours to balance their life in their career and as a parent. That way, a mix of distant learning and classroom teaching can happen. The children can get all the benefits from hours of enriched classroom time, and time learning through virtual platforms.
Children are missing out so much through this pandemic, and we can not lose hope and support for their wellbeing and future.