What Kindergarten Teachers Want Parents To Know About School This Fall Amid COVID
Every year, kindergarten teachers are descended upon by anxious parents filled with questions — and usually, those queries can be answered. This year, however, educators might be just as uncertain as parents in many ways about the year ahead, but that doesn't mean they don't have some very valuable information to share. So what do kindergarten teachers want parents to know this year?
If this is your kid's first year of school, it probably won't be the experience you've been imagining since the day they were born. You most likely won't see them sharing crayons or tagging their friends on the playground. You might not even see kids in the same classroom: 5 out of 10 of the largest school districts in the country are choosing remote learning only,Education Week reported.
Still, if you're planning on sending your child back to a brick-and-mortar school in the fall (or even if you're planning on distance learning), it's important to know what your child's educators are thinking. Many of them share the same concerns as parents, and it's their goal to make sure that your child is safe, healthy, and happy. Here's what 11 kindergarten teachers want parents to know about COVID-19, your kid, and the classroom.
1. They’re Trying Their Best
“We know that at this point, parents’ nerves are probably frayed from months of homeschooling. And just like everyone else, we want kids to be able to have some semblance of normalcy, which is why we are doing our best to make sure that the school year starts off on the right foot. Although there are no guarantees how long we’ll actually be in school for, as teachers, we are still planning to decorate our kindergarten classrooms, and make it as colorful and safe as we can without feeling too sterile. We want the best for our students, both physically and more importantly, emotionally.” –Mary Ann, Toledo, Ohio
2. They’re Scared, Too
“I would say that most, if not all, of my colleagues are scared about returning to school in the fall. The majority of us have families, too, and the idea that we have absolutely no control over where our students have been or who they have been around when they come to our classroom is frightening. I mean, we can do everything to stay safe, and all it might take is one student who’s asymptomatic to spread the virus.” –Anonymous
3. They Want You To Be Realistic
“Although our goal is to obviously teach our classes and get our early learners excited about their educational journey, I worry that we’re not going to be able to keep up with the standard curriculum. There is so much learning that happens during a day of kindergarten, and to have to maintain that rigorous schedule while ensuring that kids stay socially distanced (and keep their masks on), to me, seems like an impossibility. So I would want parents to know that while we as teachers are going to try our best to get as much instruction done during the school day as possible, it might not be the same as previous years pre-pandemic. They might need to supplement their child’s education, whether it’s with homeschooling or with a tutor.” –Victoria G., Montclair, New Jersey
4. They Want You To Be Involved
“Our school district is finalizing its reopening plans, and part of that is a decrease in the amount of people into and out of the school. For parents who want to participate in their child’s classroom, that can be tough, especially for those who are experiencing separation from their children for the first time. But what parents and caregivers should be aware of is that just because they might not be able to come into the actual building doesn’t mean that they can’t still be an active and vibrant part of their child’s learning. We, as kindergarten teachers, are going to be leaning on them a lot this school year to help us out, particularly if schools need to close again and distance learning is implemented. Parents can still actively participate; we just have to think of new and creative ways for them to feel like they’re an extended (but integral) part of our classroom.” –Margaret P., Annapolis, Maryland
5. They Want You To Communicate With Them
“It’s all going to come down to communication in the fall. Parents need to talk to their children to see how well they’re doing on all levels, and they’ll also need to be proactive about communicating concerns to the administrators as well. We are really all in this together, and my hope is that we can have conferences with parents at least once a month so that we’re all on the same page and working towards the same goal, which is the health and safety of our students.” –Tiffani F., Long Island, New York
6. They’re Just As Confused As You Are
“Our district still hasn’t hammered out the reopening guidelines, which is unnerving, to say the least. At this point, with school set to open in about a month, I would have liked to have a game plan in place so that teachers and parents would all know what their options are. I’m nearing retirement, and I feel if there isn’t specific guidance to ensure everyone’s well-being (staff and students alike), I might be forced to take early retirement, which is the last thing I want to do because I love the kids.” –Anonymous
7. They Wish It Were The Same As Before
“I think I echo the sentiment of many teachers when I say that I wish this school year would be like previous ones. All of the changes that we’ve had to implement up until now (i.e., spacing out the desks 6 feet apart, removing all of the toys, rugs, and, aw, our Story Time Chair), makes it feel like it’s not even kindergarten. I cried when I saw just how much my classroom had changed. It looked so sterile, and it feels like it’s missing the heart that the kindergarten classroom should have.” –Rachel D., San Francisco, California
8. They Understand If You Don’t Send Your Child Back In The Fall
“I’m a teacher in NYC, and I’m hearing from more parents that they’re seriously considering keeping their kids home in the fall. While I’m sure that they would want to send their children under different circumstances, I completely empathize with them. I’m a mom to a 7-year-old and a 10-year-old, and I wish I could keep my kids home, too. Parents need to know that they shouldn’t feel judged for wanting to protect their children, and hopefully, eventually, everyone will get caught up.” –Anonymous
9. They’re Worried For Their Own Health
“I thought it was a joke when I heard that some teachers were preparing their own wills as they prep for the reopening of schools — but it’s not. And while I’m not technically one of the most at-risk groups (I’m in my early 30s, and don’t have any other ailments), it’s terrifying to think that we could get sick on the job. When you think about it, our windows don’t open all the way up, and we’re all breathing in the same air. But even though I am in fairly good health, my dad lives with me, and I’m so scared that I could contract COVID-19 and pass it along to him.” –Deborah P., Harrisburg, Pennsylvania
10. They Want Parents To Be Prepared
“Not to be pessimistic, but the likelihood that the school year will continue without some sort of closure is unlikely, in my opinion. And for the parents who are sending their children back to school, I think it would be wise to be realistic about their children’s instruction. At some point, schools could close, so parents should have contingency plans in place in case that happens. They should know how they’re going to instruct their kids from home and balance work demands, if need be. It won’t be easy, but at least if they’re prepared, it might make the transition easier.” –Anonymous
11. They Feel Loyal To Their Students
“As fearful as I am about the virus, there’s still a stronger part of me that makes me want to get back into the classroom. We all know that summer slide is a real thing, and with kids having been out of school for months now — and parents unprepared to fill our roles as teachers — I can only imagine how far behind many kids already are. That’s why I want to get back, so we can start the school year strong in case of closures. That way, they’ll have a somewhat solid base of learning for parents to build on.” –Charlotte L, Albany, New York
In listening to early childhood educators, parents can find wisdom (and a whole lot of hope) for the fall school year. So even though kindergarten might not be exactly as you envisioned, it can still be a great learning experience to kickstart your child's educational career.