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This is no ordinary Back to School season. When classrooms moved online last year, parents got a front-row seat to daily classroom life, from listening to remote “circle time” to trying to engage and motivate children slumping disengaged in their chairs. It gave many parents a first-time opportunity to participate in their children’s schooling, including daily views of teachers onscreen. There was an unprecedented level of family engagement, by choice or by default: We were all in it together, within the same four walls.
And this fall, if all continues on course, they go back. What will that look like? Learning loss is top of mind for parents and educators, but so is the loss of social-emotional skills—especially for the youngest learners, who have either spent half their lives at home in a pandemic, or had the first steps of a school routine pulled out from under them in 2020. In fact, according to a new study by the Early Learning Center at Harvard, 61 percent of parents said they were most concerned about their child’s social-emotional development—this, ahead of their academic development. According to new research from California-based ed-tech company Osmo, 72 percent of parents expressed concern that their kids have lost valuable social skills. Respondents were especially concerned that kids will have difficulty remembering basic manners and managing simple interactions, such as making conversation with friends (41%), meeting new people (40%), sharing (35%), staying quiet for long periods (34%), waiting their turn (31%), and remembering to say “please” and “thank you” (37%). And 62% of parents said they worry their children will not be able to pick up where they left off once they return to in-person learning.
And parents became more involved in schooling than ever before. During the quarantine, 64 percent of parents of school-aged children became more engaged than ever before in their kids’ learning, according to a survey by the National Parents Union.
This high level of engagement between teachers and parents is an opportunity to build upon.
When children go back to school, their daily focus becomes trained on the teacher, after a year and a half at home. But this can’t be a passing of the baton; parents need to stay engaged with teachers and work in tandem, sharing information about the child’s challenges and progress.
*Are they ready to go back to school, or start school?
*How are their eating and sleeping habits?
*How do they feel about masks and social activities?
*Have they been acting out, displaying extreme emotions?
We are in a time where communication between parents and teachers is most critical, and fortunately, also most convenient. This is a pivotal opportunity to make sure the energy and connectedness to the classroom doesn’t wane, as hopefully, the virus does.
At Housman Institute, we believe our role is to nurture the social, emotional, and cognitive well-being of all students and educators without bias. It is critical that every child feel recognized and validated from their earliest days—to understand that their voice matters, regardless of background or experience and is being heard. We listen to, respect and support the needs of our educators as we recognize their critical role in a child's emotional growth and development. Together we need to begin the important work to help all our children and educators, as we move toward a more equitable environment for early learning, setting the stage for the building blocks of empathy and conflict resolution, and a more equitable future for us all. To learn more about how our program works to address equity in early childhood school communities... visit here.