Feral Kittens, Feral Children: Healing wounds from isolation

Steve brought home four foster kittens from the shelter this week. We enjoyed fostering kittens during the pandemic, so he decide to do it again. But then Steve took the train to work, and the kids left for their various activities. Unlike during the pandemic when everyone was home, I’m here alone, trying to juggling my various side gigs and hustles with four tiny needy kittens, who were taken from their momma too young. All day, these babies cry, scale my legs with their ice pick finger nails, and poop in forbidden zones. Thanks, Steve! 

This morning, I locked the kittens in the bathroom, so I could do a phone interview without interruption. I’m working on an article about how Kindergarten teachers and first grade teachers handled all the challenges in their classroom this year. I talked to teachers in Indiana, Florida, and Oregon this week. I lined up another slate of interviews for next week. This article is for an outlet that will focus on remedies, so let me share just some of the problems that I have heard so far.

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7 thoughts on “Feral Kittens, Feral Children: Healing wounds from isolation

  1. Kitties are adorable. And I love the link to the unsocialized kids (very clever).

    This is one of the reasons I think that many of these kids in the early grades should just be repeating a year. If it takes 6-9 months for them to be socialized into the level that’s needed to learn in 1st grade – then that leaves them little time to actually learn.

    A ‘bridge’ programme (we call this Year zero in NZ schools), allows kids to transition from ECE (or home) to school, and learn all of those prep-to-learn issues that you outline – in a fun and low intensity way. Some kids transition out of year zero quickly (or can go directly into a first grade classroom), others may need 6 months or even a year, before they transition.

    In general, schools don’t like this – it means another class and another teacher – with little control over how many kids turn up (being *at* school is another of those learned behaviours, both for kids and parents). But it pays dividends in the learning stakes.

    Here in NZ – we have unprecedented high levels of ‘truancy’ post-Covid. Some of it is tweens and teens refusing to go to school, and parents unable to cope. But in the early years, it’s parents just deciding that their lives will be easier if they don’t make the kids go to school (who cares about education anyway), and the government not putting any effective sanctions in place.

    Ignore the headline – the Govt apparently thinks that having 75% of kids at school regularly is an ‘ambitious’ target!

    Fewer than 60% of kids attend school regularly (i.e. miss at least one day a fortnight) – and 8% (and rising) are chronically absent (attend 2 days a week or less – probably less!). This doesn’t count sickness – it’s purely unexplained absences.


      1. It’s awful.

        And, anecdotally, I hear that the teachers/schools are under so much pressure with the kids who *do* turn up, that they really aren’t interested in chasing down the absentees (who, of course, will be even more difficult to handle in the classroom than the kids already there).

        The other side of this, is that the schools will not let kids with any respiratory symptoms attend class. I’ve had Mr 14 out of school for 3 weeks over the last 4 months with common cold symptoms (3 sets of 1 week each). In every case, my eagle-parental-eye would have said he was well enough to learn after about the first 2 days – but the schools won’t let them attend with any ‘nose-blowing’ symptoms.
        He was supposed to learn from home (I’m sure you can guess how well that went….)

        God alone knows how parents with younger kids, with more than 1 child, or who can’t work from home, manage…. I suspect there are an awful lot of (illegal) ‘home alone’ kids.

        Luckily this is not an exam year for him – so he has time to make up any deficits.


    1. Political leaders, decision makers who didn’t prioritize children. Who closed schools, but kept bars open. Who never doubled services to kids to help them make up for losses.


      1. Also any district who used all their COVID relief money just on more software instead of people to support the kids. (I’m not against technology – I love technology…..but I’m just seeing lots of districts prioritizing it over people and right now, our kids need PEOPLE)


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