I used to be a teacher.
So – I have an opinion about kids going back to school.
That Reception/ Year 1 period, when the kids are aged 4 – 6, is a crucial part of school. It’s the period when the foundations are laid. Children learn what behaviour is expected of them, they start to learn to read, and they begin to learn the very beginnings of what will, with a fair wind, become mathematics, algebra, physics, chemistry, biology, history, geography, etc, etc.
And they do other, less glamorous things. They learn to go to the toilet unaided. They learn to run around without falling over.
But these things don’t happen immediately.
And this is where I have a problem with rushing children back to school without thinking it through.
Kids need human contact. Kids in Reception and Year 1 need their shoelaces fastening, their coats zipping up. They wet themselves. They soil themselves. They fall over and graze their knees. Hell, they sometimes hurt themselves properly and need to be attended to while the ambulance arrives.
And until we can work out how these very basic needs can be met, safely, for both the child and the teacher (and the teaching assistants, and the lunchtime supervisors, and the caretakers), then I don’t think we should be contemplating sending kids back to school at all.
Kids are lovely, but also – they pick their noses, they suck their thumbs, they scratch their bums, they ooze snot and dribble, they spit when they talk, they cough and sneeze. A small boy’s shoelaces are generally slightly damp… They get sick and throw up during assembly.
Care to name any bodily fluid, and I can safely say I’ve had to deal with it during my time as a teacher. Yes, even that one.
Possibly, we might be able to arrange the classroom so that they each have their own space to work in – and I can actually see an advantage to that for some children.
But to also expect them to play alone? Eat alone? I worry that we will end up with a generation of children who can’t communicate with each other, because they have been denied the opportunity at every turn.
School is so much more than being taught. Think back to your own memories of your early school days – what’s the first thing that comes to mind? I bet it was your friends. I bet it wasn’t your times tables, or that geography project, or recorder practice, important though those things are.
I don’t know what the answer is. And I’m pretty sure that no-one else does either. Let’s wait until we do. Let’s not make our youngest school children the cannon fodder in this war again Covid-19.
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Stay safe. Stay sane. It’s not forever. We can do this.
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