I wear a lot of hats- Teacher, School Leader, Naturalist, Clean Eater. While my mom hat is not yet ready to be worn, I give me whole heart to being an aunt. This is the hat I’d like to wear as I write to you today.
My only sister is about 15 months older than me. Though we are very different, our closeness in age has built us a life of Kinship. When she was pregnant with her first baby, I dreamed with her, anticipating all the special ways we would love this baby up. My niece was born and it was clear from the beginning we shared the same heartsong.
I’ve watched her curious mind seek information and adventure. I’ve marveled at her whit and played parts in her pretending. These years watching her grow up we dreamed of her first day of kindergarten talking about how special it would be. She is so ready for that incredible experience, to fall in love with school and to find joy in new friends. I’ve prayed over her unknown teacher, believing he or she would become yet another champion for my sweet girl.
Now worldwide we are reimagining school through the terms of COVID-19 and my heart is breaking. In my private moments I cry for her, knowing all we have dreamed will not be the same this year.
Academic learning, physical health, and social/ emotional health are all important pillars in school for a child’s development. Making a plan for the fall is so difficult because it feels like any choice we make has to sacrifice one of the three pillars.
So yes, I’m sad and worried, but my lovely niece will not see it. If the way forward lacks, I must help make up the difference. Kids are always watching us. They take in our emotions and feed off of our anxiety.
This is our opportunity to prepare students for what is coming. It’s our time to pray over them and pray for the teachers entrusted with their care. I want my niece to enter kindergarten with a cheerful heart and the same boldness she has always taken on the world. So I’m working on my response because I know it will teach her the difference between panic and possibilities.
I have to believe the magic of school will return to us again one day. Until then, we will weave new magic into the way they must learn.
Energy is limited during a pandemic, but mine is still committed to this. If learning happens in a school building, I will find ways to make it safe and joyful. If learning happens online I will be more prepared than the limited warning I had in the spring. If homeschooling happens I’ll be right there for my niece to make her only year of kindergarten special. I’m not pretending it will be easy. I’m anxious with all the parents and teachers awaiting the burden ahead, but I’m taking those feelings and turning them into a determination to do well for our children. Their joy of learning is too important to give up on.
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