By Kathryn Peck
Last week, two of my children went back to face-to-face learning in school. It’s been about a year since news of the COVID-19 pandemic hit and nationwide shutdowns began.
Like everyone else, we had a very rocky transition into virtual learning last March. We clambered about, struggled with our various devices, and grappled with our new schedules and new togetherness.
Summer came and went, and when fall came, we ultimately decided to keep our children at home and continue virtual learning. Not because it was easy, by any means, but because it seemed like the safest thing to do for our home and our family situation at the time.
I have dipped my toe in the waters of elementary education and it’s too cold for me.
Suffice it to say, I have dipped my toe in the waters of elementary education and it’s too cold for me. I have watched myriad YouTube videos over the past few months instructing me on how to properly perform expanded form 2nd-grade addition and subtraction, regrouping, and 4th-grade division strategies. “Just carry the one,” I’d say, but that’s not how our children are taught anymore. Next, I’d attempt to explain Earth science to my son. “Alexa, what are tectonic plates?” I’d end up asking our Amazon device. Before beginning a lesson in ancient Celtic folklore with my daughter, I’d check to see how the two younger siblings were doing, who, on a good day, would play with the supplies for our upcoming art lesson. “Mom, why are still-lifes always fruit?” my students would ask. I don’t know, let’s just draw the fruit.
Next, I’d attempt to explain Earth science to my son. “Alexa, what are tectonic plates?” I’d end up asking.
This experience of both teaching and parenting simultaneously has given me a much greater appreciation for the importance of public schools and the roles teachers play in our children’s lives. My patience and my skills were tested, and it’s official: I am a better parent than I am a teacher.
The fact that we are lucky to even have the opportunity to return to face-to-face learning is not lost on me, and my recognition in the value of education in the capable hands of our teachers offsets my apprehension of their return while still struggling with the pandemic. Studies say that I’m not alone in my feelings of reverence for our teachers, so I do hope that somehow education can emerge stronger from this global crisis. After all, no one should have to be taught math lessons by me.
About the author: Kathryn is the owner of Bicycle Pie and mom of 4 little ones. Also a writer, editor, and former owner of one of Boston's premiere baby boutiques, she continues to write about motherhood, children's products, family life, and all other things that test our skills and patience as parents.