My daughter has experienced first grade from her bedroom, connected to an iPad, under a mountain of books and papers she was assigned to complete. Most days, she and I are on parallel paths. While she is in her digital classroom, I’m at my home computer. My husband is a first responder, and when he’s not home to help, our six-year-old will wander into the living room during class breaks and she will spend thirty minutes playing with her younger sister or having a snack.
My biggest fear about distance learning was that my first grader wouldn’t learn anything. She spent much of each school day drawing on her desk. Or I would walk into her room and discover that while the teacher was instructing the class on how to count by tens, my daughter had placed herself on mute and was singing Old MacDonald had a Farm. Her incomplete assignments were piled under her desk as though she was saving them for a rainy day.
My husband and I sat with her to talk about her late assignments. She cried. I don’t blame her. She’s extroverted and it’s not fun to be without playmates with whom she can talk about what she’s learning in class.
Then one afternoon I heard her sounding out words on her own. She began working diligently on classroom assignments without being prompted by my husband or me. Her zest for learning had returned and I can’t thank her teacher enough for the change. Her teacher’s persistence in checking on my daughter and asking her specific questions, made my daughter feel special. She felt heard and included and that made her want to learn and participate. Better still, the teacher was treating all of the children in the same way.
As 2020 draws to a close, I want to express my gratitude for teachers everywhere who have worked tirelessly to improve the experience of distance learning for all children. Thank you for your commitment to education and to the next generation. We couldn’t raise our children without you.
Photo by Julia M Cameron from Pexels