Absence makes the heart grow fonder. That adage was confirmed when First Focus and Highlights asked kids recently to tell us how they felt about the new school year.
While many who had done virtual school during the first year of the pandemic had found things to like about it (staying in their pajamas all day, for instance), they also learned that, as 5 year-old Leena put it, “it is more fun to learn together.” When we asked how kids felt as they were preparing to go back to school, they reported only one emotion more frequently than being nervous—excitement.
Many kids did express concerns about their safety, but they were also eager to see their teachers and their friends. It is these relationships they said they missed most as students learning at home. Of course, teachers have known all along that school is the fertile ground where kids learn to grow connections with others, and an understanding of themselves.
It is why in on-going challenging conditions—with new regulations, threats of illness, and the operational hurdles presented by quarantines—teachers have pulled together across the country to create new routines, welcome back the anxious and the excited alike, and find new ways to forge ahead.
It is this effort, this love, and this on-going commitment to children that leads students like 8-year-old Tristan to tell us that the one thing he wants grownups to know about kids going back to school in person is that it is “like heaven.”
This year, Teachers’ Day just doesn’t feel like enough, does it? Let’s declare it Teachers’ Year. How can we do that? By showing extra patience, offering extra grace, and knowing in our hearts that as unpredictable, stressful, and hectic as this school year might be, teachers are doing their very best to make more students feel like 6-year-old Amilya, who is happy to go back to school because, she says, “School is fun.” Let’s join them in making it so.
Christine French Cully is Chief Purpose Officer and Editor in Chief at Highlights for Children. As Chief Purpose Officer, Cully’s focus is on growing awareness and implementation of the Highlights purpose, core beliefs, and values—to help actualize the organization’s vision for a world where all children can become people who can change the world for the better....