After Social Isolation, Preparing Our Youngest Students to Thrive

When the school doors opened last fall at Bunche Montessori, early-grade teacher Katie Gerdts quickly realized it would be a tough year.

“That moment when you go to redirect a child—normally not a big deal—and the child just flips out, throws their work,” she recalled, incredulously. “And it just kept happening over and over again with different children, screaming and yelling, massive toddler tantrums.”

Without the benefit of much (if any) normal preschool or day care because of the pandemic, many students in Gerdts’ mixed-age classroom were simply not ready to learn and struggled with basic tasks, social skills, and self-regulation. It wasn’t just the academics—Gerdts and her colleagues at the Fort Wayne, Indiana, magnet school knew to expect lags there—it was skills like sharing classroom materials, taking turns, unpacking backpacks, or sitting still for even short periods of time.

Read more here

4 thoughts on “After Social Isolation, Preparing Our Youngest Students to Thrive

  1. I hope the strategies teachers are having to implement now stay in place as it struck me reading this version of your piece (can’t wait for the inside story) that teaching social skills and emotional literacy explicitly and consistently could be a big win for students over the long term.

    However after sending my child out of our ‘rarified’ (martial arts and pricey art camps) atmosphere this week to a slightly lower-cost, larger day camp I’m just kind of glum. At our previous camps the staff were actively still working on those deficits with the kids (and frankly, were before the pandemic.) At this general day camp the staff were doing an adequate job but in two days my 11 year old reported so much anti-social behaviour that was allowed to continue that we’re pulling him out and (manager’s privilege) dropping him into my camp. It was like Fortnite trash-talking come to life.

    Like

    1. Jenn wrote, “However after sending my child out of our ‘rarified’ (martial arts and pricey art camps) atmosphere this week to a slightly lower-cost, larger day camp I’m just kind of glum. At our previous camps the staff were actively still working on those deficits with the kids (and frankly, were before the pandemic.) At this general day camp the staff were doing an adequate job but in two days my 11 year old reported so much anti-social behaviour that was allowed to continue that we’re pulling him out and (manager’s privilege) dropping him into my camp. It was like Fortnite trash-talking come to life.”

      I can easily imagine this.

      I’ve seen the vast teeming masses of YMCA campers and college rec camp campers, and the adult-to-kid ratio is pretty marginal, and of course the “adults” are very young adults themselves.

      So, lots of fun if everything is fine, but not a good place to learn/re-learn social skills.

      I was walking past two camp counselors a few weeks ago, and one was saying something to the other about “the kid that just kept screaming.” I don’t know what that was about, but I’m sure we all have ideas!

      Like

  2. This is an N of1, but on our street, parents let their under-8 children form a pod for playing outdoors (all seasons). These kids came out of COVID pretty sane. Also relevant — none were only children. So some socialization w/peers was happening indoors, at home.

    Like

  3. My neighbors just sent their two kids back to school after two years. The younger (kindergarten) is extremely high-risk – was hospitalized for months with a respiratory illness as a baby – so they kept him and the now third-grader home until both kids could be vaccinated. Homeschooling has worked pretty well for them, but I’m sure it will be a challenge to move back to being among other kids all of the time. .

    Like

Comments are closed.