The Question on Everyone’s Tongue: Is Your Child Going Back To School This Fall?
It seems to be an inescapable question, everywhere you go parents are asking other parents, the media writes articles and runs segments on the evening news, and everyone seems to have a very strong opinion on the matter. Parents seem to be stuck between a rock and a hard place. If their kids return to the classroom they fear that they or a family member might get sick; and, if they continue to learn online there is a concern that their children will be negatively impacted mentallly and emotionally or fall behind in their studies. Perhaps those impacted the most in this debate are our children.
Our kids have seen an incredible amount of change since March Break of the last school year. Their routines have been disrupted, they have gone 6 months without the regular social connection with their peers, and beloved teachers. They have had to adjust to learning online, as the entire education system and parents have been figuring it all out on the fly. Our children have had to deal with their own anxiety and fears as a result of the uncertain times we have been living in, as well as what I am sure is for many additional stressors in the home as a result of the emotional, mental, physical and financial impacts of this pandemic. Given all of these ongoing impacts, perhaps the ones we should be asking are our kids? What do our children say?
In doing research for this blog what was shocking was the surprising lack of polls on children’s views or feelings about going back to school this fall. In every major media outlet there was story after story, full of statistics and polls on parent’s points of view. I found only one story in the Vancouver Sun citing that 63% of children polled were anxious about going back to school. In the absence of quantitative data I can speak only to my personal experience as a parent and those of my son Keagan. Keagan started grade 9 today, and it wasn’t anything like I remember my first day of high school to be. Keagan’s father and I elected to let Keagan choose what worked best for him. He decided he wants to do the Hybrid solution, he will be in class 2.5 days a week, and learning online the rest of the time. Not only has this pandemic changed the method of his education, it has impacted his socialization with his peers, and how he builds relationships with his teachers, and fellow students.
Keagan said his first day was surprising, and he remains optimistic about how it is all going to go. He is starting a new school, in a new town, with a whole new peer group, and as his Mom I am present to the resilience of our children. Over the past 6 months he has just kept rolling with things, dealing with all the uncertainty and I know he is not alone. If I discovered anything in preparing to share this with you it is first this decision about whether or not our children should return to the classroom is an individual choice that each family must make based on their unique needs and concerns. Secondly, it is my belief that it would serve us to include our children in the making of the decision, it is after all their life and their education. Whatever you choose, know that you are not alone, and that reaching out and asking for help and guidance, is a gift to others.