Should I send my kids back to school and nursery on June 1?
It’s the million dollar question facing parents up and down the country, and one for which everyone has a different opinion – and answer.
The proposed reopening of schools and nurseries as lockdown is eased means our middle two (aged five and three) can return to reception and pre school if we want them to.
But with the threat of coronavirus still hanging over us and strict social distancing measures in place – making schools and nurseries very different from the schools and nurseries they left in March – the question is: what should we do for the best?
Is it too soon? Is it safe? What will ‘the new normal’ actually look like and how will it impact the kids?
Should I send my kids back to school & nursery?
I won’t lie: being confined to our two bedroom flat with four kids and no garden during lockdown has not been easy.
Add a heavily pregnant mama, then a newborn baby, homeschooling x 2 and one of us trying to work into the mix and some days have been worse than awful.
There have been tears and tantrums (theirs and mine), tempers have frayed and the frankly overwhelming situation has brought out the worst in all of us more times than I care to admit.
Having just the oldest (eight) and the youngest (four weeks) at home instead of all four at the same time would not only halve the workload, but give us all some much needed breathing space and a return to some semblance of routine and normality too.
The trouble is ‘the new normal’ is almost unrecognisable compared to life as we knew it.
When our primary school reopens on June 1 changes include spots painted on the playground to show the kids where they can and can’t stand and play, classes reduced to smaller groups kept separate from each other and each child sat at their own desk two metres apart – the complete opposite of the ‘shared learning’ environment they’re used to.
I can’t help but question the psychological impact ‘the new normal’ will have on the kids, both now and in the long term. Forcing five year olds to play two metres apart in the playground just seems bonkers, if not virtually impossible. Or perhaps I’m overthinking it and they won’t actually notice.
Then there’s the risk being back at school and nursery poses to family and friends if and when we are allowed to see them again. Right now, after six weeks in lockdown, I’m 99.9% certain we’re virus free, but with the kids back at school and nursery I won’t be able to make the same claim come mid-June.
Yet at the same time I worry about the psychological impact keeping the kids at home would have too.
Of course we could keep them at home for longer, until September for example, but if the same measures are still in place then – and beyond – we can’t keep them at home forever.
The fact is we’re simply not cut out for homeschooling: trying to teach two kids of different ages with different needs while entertaining a three year old, caring for a newborn and running a household while one of us works is not only unsustainable but too much – these are jobs that were never meant to be done by just one or two people.
And the thing that coronavirus, face masks and social distancing can’t change is human nature: the compassion, love and dedication of the teachers and nursery staff who I know will do their utmost to make the best of a bad situation. A global pandemic can’t take that away, which is why we’ve decided that our middle two will go back to school and nursery on June 1.
It’s a decision we may well live to regret, and we can always take them out again if it doesn’t work out, but I think we need to give it a chance because the fact is this new normal is going to be normal for quite some time.
What do you think? Are you faced with sending children back to school or nursery on June 1 too? What have you decided?