Kindergarten is in many ways, a “rite of passage” in North America. The number of social media posts about crying parents, smiling teachers, and our nervous kids, seem to increase annually. This year, 2020, may be no different. Depending on what your school district does, there may still be many crying parents, nervous kids, and just a few smiling teachers. (Let’s face it, distance teaching during coronavirus was NOT easy for teachers either!) We are all wondering what will actually transpire when the 2020-21 school year rolls around.
Will your Kindergartener get the teacher’s attention they need if school is operating at a distance? As a parent, will you be able to devote the time and energy to distance learning? Will your child miss out on a formative student-teacher relationship or on meeting new children and having positive developmental relationships? There are many questions swirling around the minds of parents of K-12 children, heading into this upcoming school year.
While many universities and colleges have already committed to providing only a distance-learning experience, the same does not hold true for K-12 education. This should not surprise us. The Kindergarten through fifth grade experience is uniquely designed to be more hands-on, physically accommodating, and appropriate for the ebb and flow of cognitive development. The middle and high school years are far more structured and model a transition to self-reliance. It’s also the time when adolescent social development is spinning like an all-consuming tornado, which was the number one frustration of my friends who have teens.
And yet, when the crisis came knocking, most Kindergarten through fifth grade students were provided with a very “adult” method of learning at a distance. The middle school and high school students simply received another opportunity to develop into more mature versions of themselves. My own elementary aged children began to look like mini-adults at the kitchen table, hunched over laptops. I watched knowing this wasn’t remotely close to what they would have done in the classroom.
So, yes, while most distance learning is designed for adults and could be modified for middle and high school students, we all agree that none of it was easy. We’ve all seen (or been in) the social media videos of ranting parents, the distance learning memes, or the “I’m trying!” messages from teachers.