Boy Who Saved Sister From Dog Attack Challenges Everyone To Do Something Kind In September
"Anecdotal information we're getting is that kindergarten numbers are way down because parents are saying, 'Rather than do whatever we have to do this year, we'll just hold our kids back one year.'"
Jenna Conway, the chief school readiness officer for Virginia, is anticipating a 15% to 25% drop in kindergarten enrollment across the state this year, based on numbers reported by districts thus far, though official enrollment numbers won’t be available until the end of the month.
“Everybody’s asking, where are the kids?” she says. And the answer is not yet clear. Some families might be holding their child back a year, a practice known as “redshirting.” Some might be enrolling their children in private school. Some might be homeschooling. And others have placed their child in daycare. Conway says about half of the Virginia child care providers that reopened have reported taking in some school-aged children, with a mix of daycares expanding to offer a kindergarten program or supervising children who are enrolled remotely in a public kindergarten.
Nearly half of school districts across the country have reopened for fully in-person instruction, according to an analysis in late August by the Center on Reinventing Public Education. But 26% of districts, including many of the country’s largest school systems, have started the year fully remote. In recognition of the challenges facing the youngest learners, some districts have prioritized bringing kindergarteners and elementary schoolers back face-to-face first, before phasing in other grades.
“One of the biggest challenges is going to be the variability of experiences,” Conway says, noting that students in some districts will receive in-person instruction, while others remain fully remote, and that kids in affluent families will have the opportunity to learn just as much as they would in a typical school year, while many other children will fall further behind. She says policymakers and education leaders will have to rethink early education and kindergarten and provide additional support to students who don’t have the full-time help of a caregiver, a quiet place to learn or consistent Internet access.
“The hardest part about virtual kindergarten and pre-K is that the kids cannot do it on their own. They just can’t. I’ve both been able to observe classrooms and, downstairs in my house, observe my own child, and you know, there’s a lot of parents and caregivers in the frame,” Conway says. “Where are the places where parents aren’t able to support that? Where are the places where kids kind of go missing, either they’re absent or don’t log in?”
‘A lifetime of trying to catch up’
Traneisha Sanford, a kindergarten teacher at Sims Elementary School in Conyers, Ga., which is continuing with virtual learning through the first semester, says she has 13 students in her class this year, down from about 23 in a typical year. She turned her guest bedroom into a remote classroom, decorating it with bookshelves, posters and a colorful bulletin board that says, “Our kinder class is virtually the best,” in neon letters.