Some of my best memories are when I was young and life was carefree. Preschool and kindergarten are the best times in school because you get to play and have fun. I didn’t love kindergarten until I volunteered in the classroom. My mom was an elementary science teacher at a different school district and I would sometimes go to school with her and sit in other classes while she taught. Soon my favorite was helping the kindergarten room. They had a wonderful teacher who was kind. She had different activities everyday and all the kids seemed to have so much fun in her class. That’s when I decided I wanted to be a kindergarten teacher. I loved seeing the kids light up and be excited to learn.
Fast forward through the awkward teenage years and sadly I changed. Suddenly, I was shy and didn’t feel like I could handle being a teacher anymore. I ended up majoring in marketing and while I was successful, it never left the same impact of being in the kindergarten classroom. However things changed for the better and I’m lucky to be a stay at home mom, the most rewarding job I’ve ever had.
This is the year I have been looking forward to, my oldest is at the age to enter kindergarten! My heart is aching to give her that same wonderful kindergarten experience. Lots of play with other kids, crafts and art tables, story times and the wonderful and kind teacher that she yearns to see and tell me all about when she gets home. But there is now something big that’s changed this from happening, COVID-19 delta plus.
When the pandemic started and she was 4, I was so worried she would miss out. We ended up getting into TK distance learning and it wasn’t what I expected, but surprisingly, she did very well. Here we are a year later hoping for a new beginning but instead we are facing a new dangerous variant and my children aren’t able to get vaccinated yet. My husband and I had to make one of the hardest decisions, we are opting for distance learning independent study for kindergarten. Just hearing it makes me cringe, not so much because it was or will be a bad experience, but because I have no clue what to expect this go around.
We got really lucky last time and had a phenomenal TK teacher, Mrs. Urenda. She really made it a great class and my daughter learned a lot. Now, schools are really pushing in-person learning and there really isn’t a push or desire from many to do distance learning. It really makes our choice feel different. I’ve had to call so many times to push for any information on what it will be like. For the first time I feel like Elsa, “I’m going into the unknown.”
We are two days before school starts and I don’t know her teacher. I don’t know how many kids will be online with her or if there will be kids her age in her group. I don’t even know what the schedule will be. I’m really hoping this goes well, and most importantly that my daughter thrives. With vaccines projected to be available soon, I can only hope it happens sooner rather than later. I also hope in-person school goes safely so she can join after she is vaccinated.
As a mom, we have so many battles and so many worries, but I never thought I’d keep my baby from going into kindergarten. It really makes me regret not being a teacher. I don’t know that it would have made a difference in my decision but maybe I could have taught her myself and made our own pod outdoor school. I’m surprised and disappointed that there aren’t more options, especially to go outside or to create outdoor classes.
Another ironic part of this story is that she would have attended the school I helped out at, the actual kindergarten room that inspired me. Now I’m reaching into myself for as much inspiration as possible to set up a kindergarten experience for her, that although different, will hopefully bring lots of joy and memories.