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Kindergarten During a Pandemic

I was so excited for this year to start.

Our daughter is starting kindergarten! KINDERGARTEN! OMG!

She’s beyond ready. She’s going to be turning 6 just a couple months after school starts (November birthday), and quite honestly she was probably ready last year…

Kindergarten During a Pandemic

Can I just tell you that this whole past school year, I was kind of dreading this milestone, however!? Our daughter was going to go from 2.5 hours every day in Pre-K, to a full day in kindergarten. When I thought about it, it caused me sadness.

I thought of the time she’d get at home, and it was minimal. After school was out, it would be probably a short time to relax, then do some homework, dinner, and soon after bed. The time would just fly by and I was going to be grieving the loss of our time together.

Then the pandemic happened. I was so thankful that we were able to stay home without it causing any disruption to income, etc. We got into a good groove, and even though distance learning was sudden and not ideal, we figured it out. She happened to be in Pre-K at the elementary school in the public school system she’d be attending for kindergarten. I was thankful we were already with them and figuring things out together as a team.

I found myself so hopeful it would lead to some good changes in the school system. And it did!

Our school system hasn’t released their decision yet, but they have a few options. Option 1 is all virtual. Option 2 is a hybrid model (2 days of school, 3 days virtual), and option 3 is full reopening. No matter what they decide to approve, the option of full virtual will stand for awhile for families that are not yet comfortable going back full time.

I was originally thrilled with the idea of a hybrid model!

And then my worries came and I realized something. I am not thrilled about this new look during a pandemic. I want this hybrid model when the pandemic is over. LOL Not now.

I think it could be a fantastic model for our kids once this pandemic is over. And the sad reality, is that we’ll just all go back to normal after we have a vaccine.

In my excitement, I was determined to not let masks and a pandemic hinder our daughter’s experience. I bought her a backpack and a lunch box. I ordered her school supplies. I ordered her all sorts of cute masks.

And then it hit me.

We are not sending our daughter into public places right now. Alone. We aren’t even taking her into stores right now. We are doing pick ups. We aren’t putting our family at risk in any way. And when it comes to school, it’s no different. We are not willing to risk her health or ours, or the teacher’s or any of the other school staff. The risk… the tiny risk is FAR TOO GREAT. One life saved is worth staying home. And since we can keep our daughter home, we will.

We are going to choose to do virtual learning this year. It breaks my heart that we have to tell our daughter this news. She was excited. She was willing to wear the mask. Our highly sensitive daughter that can hardly stand to wear a mask for 10 minutes was willing to wear it all day to get back to school. She was going to power through. We aren’t willing to let her.

Yes there are the physical risks, but for our daughter in particular, there are the mental loads and stress. She notices everything. She’s a worrier. She knows what’s going on and she’s hyper aware of her surroundings. And as all 5 year olds do, she has an imagination that she can hardly keep up with…

We aren’t willing to cause her anxiety. Any time we are near others (even just a neighborhood walk or grocery pickup), she expresses worry about the virus. She notices if people don’t have their masks on. I can’t imagine her at school without me, having these worries on her shoulders- kids not complying and wearing their masks, getting too close to her, etc. It would cause her to lose a lot of sleep from the anxiety alone.

And so, virtual it is!

And we are going to do all the things we’d normally do to make this a fun an exciting milestone. I am still going to take her “virtual” school shopping for some new clothes, because well she’s outgrowing things and loves her clothes. She has such a fun sense of style.

We still bought her a backpack and no I’m not returning it. She’ll use it one day soon.

And now that the news has settled in, I am also really excited for this new chapter as well. Having her home is fantastic and I just love it. I also love that we’ll still be in the public school setting.

And hopefully we can figure out a way to get her some playtime in with another child at some point. Although I’m also so thankful she has a living sibling now. It’s so nice to watch them play.

Distance learning wasn’t great, but it was sudden and I know that’s why. Teachers are going to make this next round so good. They are going to do what they do best and teach our kids the best way they can. We’ll all figure this out together and I think it’s going to work out great.

I am hoping that our county takes the cautious path and only opens virtually for this first semester. Since we don’t have a vaccine it seems like the only option to me.

If they don’t, we’ll still keep Caroline home and go the virtual route since it’s an option.

Perhaps changes like this will stay in place for awhile and perhaps not. Either way, I am so excited for Caroline to be starting kindergarten.

We’re getting organized around here for all of the school stuff. She already had a desk in her room, so we are simply cleaning it off (which means putting up shelving for the stuff she’s collected on it), getting some storage for her supplies, and making a fun place for learning.

Kindergarten During a Pandemic

It’s nothing fancy. I see all sorts of pictures of people creating full rooms in their house to do school in, etc. The reality is that most of her work will probably be done at the kitchen table. Some will need a quiet space and be done at this small desk in her room. We aren’t going crazy with creating the perfect space, but are trying to get a bit organized.

I got this cute storage cart on amazon to hold her school stuff downstairs. It’s inexpensive enough that I might get another one for upstairs. We’ll see once we get her fully setup if we need another.

We also got her all set up with a chromebook back in May. Our school will loan them out, but I figured we’d leave the supply for those that need it. She’ll be using it enough that it’s worth the expense.

We’ve already started some typing games and she’s doing great with it!

I know this year is going to be hard for some people. So many people it’s not as simple. There are working families that don’t have the option to stay home, single parents, etc. I hope that employers continue to be flexible because we need to keep our children and our communities safe.

If we can keep our kids home, I think we should. It frees up space for those that can’t, if the school systems do end up opening up.

I hope we can all find the positives in these changes and get our children excited to start the new year. Our attitude about everything will drastically impact our children’s view.

Kindergarten is going to look nothing like we envisioned, but we are going to embrace it and get excited and make it as special as we can.

The most amazing thing is that we are going to get more time together. We’ll get to keep gardening together and enjoying each other’s company. We’ll get to learn together. We’ll get so much out of this. So it’s not perfect, but it’s still going to be wonderful.

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