I saw a meme earlier this week that said something to the effect of, “We’re in the middle of August, but my mind is trapped in March,” and if that’s not the truest thing I’ve ever heard, I don’t know what is. When COVID reared its head in the US in March, the world truly felt like it stopped spinning altogether, and I feel like we’ve been reeling ever since. When things first shut down, I don’t think I knew what to expect, but I think it’s safe to say it’s reached much further than I thought it ever would, and now our schools here in Washington (Pierce County) aren’t opening this fall; virtual learning only. Ryan and I beat our heads for weeks trying to figure out a way to find some normalcy for Spencer in these COVID times because this is his first year of school-aged learning. We even went so far as to enroll him in private school, only to have them close it in favor of a distance model after enrolling him. So, here we are, on the cusp of homeschooling instead of giving him the Kindergarten experience he’s been dreaming of for all these years. So, for my Kindergartener in these COVID times, I want to share something with you; something I want to remember as well.
Kindergarten is a formulative year for students. While it’s not the most academic-fueled year, it’s one of learning the art of being social, experiencing that first taste of independence, and really dipping your toes into those proverbial societal waters. Never in a million years did I think that I, or hundreds/thousands of other parents, would feel forced to homeschool, rather than settle for a hands-off remote learning environment. For my Kindergartener in these COVID times, I want you to remember that you are strong. This storm won’t last forever, and your first taste of Kindergarten will be just as sweet – albeit different than many of us had hoped for.
We eagerly shopped for and anticipated that first year of grade school. Together we dreamed of backpacks, and pencil cases, and recess, and fun school lunches. We dreamed of all the fun you’d have and the friends you would make. We talked about how excited you were to do “real homework” and feel like a big kid. For my Kindergartener in these COVID times, I want you to know that those things haven’t changed. You are a big kid now. You will make friends. You will learn new things and experience all the exciting parts of Kindergarten – just a little bit different than the way we thought it would look.
You spoke for months, if not years, about how excited you were to walk with Mommy to school, or to ride your bike next to me each morning. We talked about how your schedule would change and you would have new teachers who would teach you exciting new things. You eagerly spoke of how you couldn’t wait to learn to read and start to read all the books on the shelf all by yourself. For my Kindergartener in these COVID times, I want you to know that a school building does not define or limit your potential. Learning will happen. You’ll see, learn, do, explore, and experience all those academic highlights you wanted, but we’ll mix in some fun, too, with one-on-one field trips and child-led learning – learning at your pace, which is a luxury.
You mentioned you were sad that you can’t show off your new backpack, and you said that you were scared you’ll never have any friends. You said you’re excited to graduate from preschool, but you don’t want to not have fun anymore, and that made my heart hurt. For my Kindergartener in these COVID times, I want you to know that fun is relative. We can make learning fun. We can look at this time as a gift and an opportunity and make it as fun as you want. It’s not how we imagined this year would go, and my heart is sad for you losing out on that exciting milestone year, but I see this as an opportunity. For you. For us. We will make the best of it like we always do.
COVID has changed so much in our lives, and this is truly one of the biggest things I’d hoped wouldn’t change. While we, as adults, can weather this storm, it’s harder for littles because the complexity and scope of it are both far-reaching and, in truth, chaotic. And yet, as disappointed and heartbroken as I am that my Kindergartener won’t experience his first year of school the way we’d imagined, I know that he’s resilient, just like so many other kiddos out there. This is just another challenge to strengthen them, and the adversity will not define us. It’ll be an adventure, if nothing else, and that journey will be worth the reward.