What Have We Learned?
What pandemic lessons might continue to improve the lives of kids?
What’s it like at your house this end-of-school-year moment? In my house, we’re crawling to the finish line. Two of my kids are still going to in-person school for another week, and I tell you: it’s torturous for everyone. The kids, the parents, the teachers – everyone. Social media streams are filled with the same desperation I see in my own home. “Why can’t it just be over?” echoes across the country. We’re all ready to put the past year behind us and move forward into post-pandemic education.
But . . . let’s not move so quickly that we leave behind some of the really good things that came out of this past year. Once you start looking for those pandemic lessons, you might realize that there are lots of things about school that are actually better now than they were a year ago. Or, we at least have an opportunity to make them better.
This isn’t meant in any way to diminish the hardships and heartaches that this year has delivered to families around the world. It’s been a year of intense suffering, and we’ll all be dealing with various forms of trauma for a long time.
But good things did come from this past year, and it would be a shame to ignore those things as we all look forward to getting back to some kind of normal.
Yes, remote learning was really, really hard for many of us. But for some students, it was a wonderful realization that a different kind of learning suited them. Kids who have trouble during in-person school had the chance to try something different, and that kind of opportunity doesn’t come around very often. The school system may not be designed to initially serve the needs of ALL students and their particular forms of learning, but one thing that proved true this past year is that with effort, more learning styles could be accommodated than ever before.
Staying Home When Sick
While this should have always been easy to accomplish, it wasn’t until the risk of catching a deadly disease was amplified that people actually started following this rule, and schools and workplaces made it possible to do so. It’s always been tough, as a working parent or guardian, to take time off to care for a sick kid who can’t go to school. Now that we recognize the colossal importance of this, let’s work at keeping it an option for everyone.
Food is Critical
Of course, we all know this instinctively, but the concept became especially visible when schools went remote March 2020 and one problem immediately became apparent. How were kids going to eat? The free lunch programs that many families relied on for at least one meal a day, often two, wasn’t going to be easy to access with everyone learning from home. Lots of school districts went into action forming a delivery system, while other schools had pick-up windows. But that wasn’t enough, and regions are still struggling with getting food to the kids who need it. One thing that did make a difference was that everyone was eligible for free food. No application necessary. Let’s keep the sheer importance of getting food to all kids in mind as we move forward into new kinds of schools.
Everyone Needs Broadband
The one tool that showed itself to be indispensable the past year and a half is a tool not everyone has, and that needs to change. Children need the internet to do their schoolwork, even as schools go back to in-person, and every home needs access to service so education is equitable and no kid falls behind because they can’t get their lessons.
School Affects Everything
Truly everything. Before the pandemic, it was very easy to think of schools as simply places children go to get an education. However, once school was taken out of the equation, we all woke up to the fact that without school, parents are unable to work, kids suffer more with social-emotional issues, kids are starved for friendships, families are starved for support, and the list goes on. Schools affect family life, family earnings, and academic success. Schools are crucial, and shouldn’t be taken for granted. Also, teachers are amazing.
Administrators are already planning for next year, and it’s likely to (once again) look much different from any other year. Now that we’ve learned a few key lessons about school and education, let’s use that knowledge to create methods of learning and supporting in which every child thrives. I can’t think of a better way to honor the losses so many families felt through the pandemic.
Summer is for fun, but learning can happen, too! Try some hands-on science activity books to keep your kids happy during the hot summer days. Our Book Bundles offer three books of the same theme for the price of two!