Back to School…in June

Going back to school in June would be strange enough during so-called “normal” times, but now, during a pandemic, it might feel—to those students who’ve chosen to return—like traveling into the Twilight Zone.

Imagine if you will, taped markings around desks enforcing a two-metre buffer, a bell ringing for scheduled washroom and handwashing breaks, squirts of hand sanitizer administered frequently, directional arrows taped on hallway floors, staggered drop-off, pick-up, recess, and lunch times, and the possibility of some people around you wearing masks.

When/if kids return to school this month, they will enter a reality unlike the one they left in March. But one thing a lot of parents have noticed since the sudden switch from school to home: kids are resilient and adaptable. So chances are they’ll be the same way going from home back to school.

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A recent study from the Angus Reid Institute canvassed children aged 10 to 17 across Canada about their thoughts, expectations, and concerns during the pandemic. Asked how they would feel about returning to school, 36 per cent said they’re looking forward to it, while twenty-six per cent said they’re not. Nearly four-in-ten, or 38 per cent, felt just “okay” about the prospect.

When asked to describe how they’ve been feeling in general, 71 per cent of kids said “bored.” Forty-one per cent said they feel “normal.” Older kids were twice as likely as younger ones to say they feel “angry” compared to those aged 10 to 15, and half as likely as those who said they feel “good.”

What did the majority of kids miss most during the shutdown? Their friends.

Now they’re together again while trying to stay two metres apart.

Normally, June is when we’d be winding down the school year and gearing up for the summer. Right about now we’d be thinking about summer plans and programs, possible holidays and road trips, sunny weather and lazy days stretching out in front of us like a long sandy beach.

But nothing about this year has been normal. And so we’re all trying to adapt.

To help, Dr. Jillian Roberts provides thinking points for parents in her article, Getting Ready—or Not—for Go Back to School; Kelly McQuillan writes about The Power of a Mama Hug; and Kelly Cleeve points out a few positives of the pandemic in Unforeseen Blessings. For ideas and suggestions on how to beat boredom while isolating, check out Keep Calm & Carry On @ Home and 5 Ways to Inspire, Rewire and Connect. And keep in mind that on June 25, school’s out! For a list of summer programs, adapted to meet new sector-specific guidelines for child care and recreation, see the Sensational Summer Program Listings.

Happy back-to-school/still at home—and start of summer!

Sue Fast

Vancouver Island's Parenting Resource