As we head into an unprecedented start to the new school year, many parents are struggling with the best option for their school-aged children, especially parents of kindergarteners. How does one begin to make the best choice for a child who has never yet attended school? How do you know their learning style? How do we all ensure your child keeps pace?
Globally we are experiencing a historical event that will color our future. The impact of Covid-19 has demanded that we reset expectations and redefine benchmarks for success. What we know is that children need to feel safe, they need to believe that their skills and abilities will grow with effort, and they need to develop ways to cope with emotions, feelings, and behaviors in different settings. These are the foundations for student success, and these are areas that your child’s teacher will work to support regardless of the learning environment you choose.
Kindergarten is a time for exploration, and young children are incredibly adaptive, they learn how to navigate their environments quickly. We know that most schools will begin this year with online curriculum and that has some parents concerned about the quality of education and their child’s ability to achieve mastery of skill sets and learning, but the resources available today make learning through technology easier and more engaging than it has ever been. Students can engage in rich learning and make deep connections in an online environment. They may not retain everything they see and hear, but, just like in a face to face classroom, they will be provided multiple exposures and many opportunities to practice. While some students may have gaps, regardless of the circumstances, this happens every year. Research has shown that gaps in early education (ages 3-5) are usually offset by 2nd grade. Know that your child is not alone and that every other kindergartener is facing this same situation and that kindergarten is about so much more than sounding out words and learning basic math.
Early childhood education is important and has been found to have positive effects, and sets the foundation for high school graduation rates, college attendance rates, and adult self-esteem. This is because kids learn so much more than academics in their early schooling. They learn to share (self-sacrifice), they learn to wait their turn (respect), they build academic stamina (diligence), and they learn how to navigate new and difficult situations (courage). We are committed to providing opportunities for children to learn independence and begin to form their identities. They discover their free will and have a safe place to test boundaries, make mistakes, learn from those mistakes, and explore relationship dynamics. The power of kindergarten is not in the standards that are taught but in the social development that will shape who they become. Those lessons happen through group and independent learning opportunities, and they can happen virtually or face to face.
There is no “right” answer, only the answer that is right for your family, but regardless of which platform your kindergartener uses this year, they are taking another step towards independence and developing their character. They will all learn different things in different ways, but they will all learn more about who they will become.
Lisa Fantasia, M.Ed-Special Education, M.Ed-Educational Administration
Open Sky Education, Executive Director