August is one of my favorite months of the year. Here in the South, it signals that fall is on its way and that it’s time for our kiddos to go back to school. My daughter, Nora, turned three in April and is going into her second year of preschool. Although our local school district has decided to host school virtually for the first nine weeks, my daughter’s school will be returning to in-person instruction.
Thinking back to last year’s back-to-school preparations makes me long for a simpler time. Some differences are small; for instance, this year’s school supply list included hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes in addition to the standard crayons and play dough. Other changes have been more profound. My daughter’s school hosted a Meet the Teacher event last night, and it was our first taste of what this new ‘normal’ will look like for Nora and her friends. My husband and I initially had reservations about sending her back to school in these crazy times, but seeing how well the school had prepared to welcome children helped put our minds at ease. Upon entering the school, we had our temperature taken with a fancy new machine, and we were required to wear face masks the entire visit. We signed up for staggered meeting times to meet the new teacher and tour the classroom. Nora will begin school with only half of her class on the first day. While she won’t be required to wear a mask all day because of her age, the older children in her school, and all of the teachers and staff, will wear masks all day.
I was afraid that these new protocols would frighten Nora, but she didn’t miss a beat! She was so excited to return to some semblance of ‘normal’ that she didn’t seem phased by having her temperature taken or seeing all of the grownups in masks. Last night reminded me of how resilient our children are and how we can learn so much from them. Whether our children are returning to school in person, online, or a mixture of both, what is most important is that they are excited about learning and have parental support so they stay engaged. With my mind at ease (as much as possible for these times) about Nora’s return to school, I can now share in her excitement about the new school year.