It is finally warm; sitting in the 80-degree weather and watching the kids splash in the pool is a perfect way to forget about all my worries. As I glance at my three children, my eyes stop on my newly-turned 5-year-old and my mind begins to wonder what lies ahead of him for this next year.
This year will be the year I send my first kid to Kindergarten. My anxious thoughts begin to form about the “what ifs” for this new school year. When I became a mom, I knew I would have worries about sending my first kid off to Kindergarten. You know the “normal” worries; worried that he makes friends; afraid he’ll spill his lunch tray; wondering if he’ll love his teacher.
But now I have a set of a whole new worries as we sit in the middle of a global pandemic.
My new worries are now surrounding the health and well-being of my soon-to-be Kindergartner. Every possible good and bad scenario has ran through my mind. Will my child be able to attend school physically? Or will his first taste of school be meeting teachers and friends through a computer screen? There are definitely pros and cons to both sides.
I see a lot of benefits for in-person instruction. Children, especially those in younger grades like Kindergarten, learn to socialize. They learn the norms of sharing, working with a classmate on a project, and playing together in gym class. I can see the effect the social isolation has had on my kids just from my oldest not going to preschool and not being around our other friends. I can tell they crave that “in-person” play time.
In-person instruction will also allow families to go back to work or have their time to work from home kid-free. While this may be the best option for children, it is also not necessarily the safest option for them. Being around other children and possibly being exposed to COVID-19 is, of course, a HUGE worry. Or, if you are like me and your child ends up with a runny nose you may start to get anxious that it could be COVID-19….or it could just end up being a normal cold.
I won’t lie and say that it hurts my heart to think that if he does get to go to school, he may be sitting 6 feet apart from other kids instead of in their pods. What if he is having a tough day and instead of looking up and seeking comfort of a smile from his teacher he may only see a face mask? What if someone in the school tests positive? These thoughts have been running through my mind a lot lately the closer August comes.
This is obviously the “safest” form of learning for many children. Being in the comfort of our home and not being exposed to germs is definitely the highlight. However, distance learning has its own difficulties. This would be my first year of distance learning as I did not do formal distance learning for preschool last year with my oldest. What I have heard from numerous parents is that it was hard; hard while parents were working from home and trying to home school. I’ve heard of the strain put on parents because they still had to go in to work everyday and then come home at night to try to teach/help with school work. And what about the children who get assistance from special education and other school services? Distance learning may not be the best option for those families, either. It’s definitely not a long-term sustainable option for working parents, so then what do we do?
What is Safest?
I have considered opting for him to do distance learning, even if there is in-person instruction to try and get the best of both scenarios. However, I also don’t want to be labeled as “THAT mom” who is the worry-wort when most others send their kid to Kindergarten full-time. Honestly, I don’t even know if that will be an option.
Don’t get me wrong, if school decided to go back to in-person instruction I want schools to take all the precautions for the safety of everyone involved. Precautions could include hand sanitizer, increased hand-washing, and using wipes to clean off desks daily, and possible face mask requirements. I want everyone to be and stay safe no matter what option is being used for schooling.
Overwhelming “What ifs?”
It is very easy to let my anxiety rise with all of the “what ifs” this next school year will bring as I send my first kid to Kindergarten. Have I thought about home schooling? Definitely. Do I think that is the best long-term option for my social butterfly of a child? I don’t think so, but maybe my mind will change. Will everything go exactly how I imagine it will go? Probably not. Will everything work out in the end? Yes. Somehow we will manage, but I am not entirely sure “how” quite yet. I try not to let my Type A personality take over. The older I get and in this situation in particular, it is helpful to take a more relaxed approach. I have no idea what will happen, but being calm and staying positive for my kids will hopefully have better impact on them.
I hope and pray for the day we can go back to normal or reach a new normal. Until then I will prepare my child for the best kindergarten experience I can give him this year.