Kids Aren’t Falling Behind

They’re right where they should be.

kids aren't falling behind

I keep seeing Facebook posts and articles about how sad it is that no matter what teachers do, kids are falling behind. I’m over it. First of all, thinking like that serves no purpose. Secondly, let’s start by remembering that no matter what, teachers always start where kids are. In truth, benchmarks are more of an administrative construct. Much of our curriculum, though mandated, is relatively arbitrary. Here’s why I think kids aren’t falling behind, rather they’re right where they should be. They are:

Learning things from time spent in quarantine

We’ve heard about lots of kids learning to clean, cook, and solve problems around the house. These life skills put academic learning into action. It may help to reframe quarantine as experiential learning.

Discovering personal connections

Teachers know more than anyone that learning comes in many different packages. They’re finding ways to get kids to look around for learning tools in their homes. Kids are discovering how to connect what they already know, through curiosity, to new information.

Still of thetututeacher Instagram post

Source: @thetututeacher

Gaining social-emotional learning skills

For many children, this crisis has helped them learn to ask for help, be flexible, connect to people in different ways, and learn to problem-solve. Though the set up for this kind of learning is shocking and heartbreaking, it’s ripe for SEL building. When kids come back to school and things go wrong, as they do, they’ll have better independent skills for righting the ship.

Still of teacher post from Instagram

Source: @selebrateyou

Developing in their own time

Any pediatrician worth their salt will tell you that a large part of working with kids is waiting it out. Growth and development will happen with or without bricks and mortar schooling.

Child development experts say it’s not possible to get children to progress to a new stage of development before they are ready. For some children, the time gone by will help them learn skills they would have learned more quickly. For other kids, they’ll learn some skills on their own. And for still some others, they’ll need to work on skills when we get them back. But, guess what? That’s the way it’s always been.

Still of teacher post "I like being five I'm good at it"

Source: @halpey1

Experiencing quarantine with everyone

Though the inequities in education will remain, and this quarantine has sure pointed out that huge flaw in our system, this is happening to all of us. This means that all of the work being accomplished (or not) is through the same brain fog we all share. This common bond may actually serve us well in the future. We generally assign whole-class texts as a way to build a community base to launch learning, but many teachers will find a way to make quarantine our community base. 

Still of teacher's living room teaching from home

Source: @apron_education

Wanting to come back to school

For so many kids, this is making them realize how much school brings them. I think kids are going to come back with renewed interest in learning. If technology and illness have slowed down teaching, if anything teachers have been amping up their connections with students and families. This has to have an added benefit of having students come to school ready to learn from their trusted connection.

Still of I Miss You letter to teacher

Source: @ateenytinyteacher

Reading and being read to

We know that reading books every single day increases knowledge exponentially. One of the finest things to come out of this quarantine time is the availability of books being read online. The more kids read, the more they retain.

Still of teacher reading in a chair in the classroom

Source: @teaching3rdwithmrg

 

Being okay because it’s what we do

Things will be different no matter when we go back to school, but thinking that the kids will be behind is unproductive and not entirely true. They will be missing some skills and some knowledge, but that’s true of kids every year. We can change the paradigm by meeting every kid just where they are and moving them forward when we can.

Come share your it’s going to be okay stories in our WeAreTeachers HELPLINE group on Facebook.

And check out What Teachers Miss the Most About School

Kids Aren't Falling Behind

Posted by Kimberley Moran

Kimberley is a Senior Editor at WeAreTeachers. She has 15 years of classroom teaching experience and a master's degree in literacy education.

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