Making the grade

A new school year brings challenges like no other—Our Children is here to help as we learn together

By Crystal Murray

On the morning of the first day of school, I stopped at an intersection as a school bus passed by. Dozens of little masked faces peered out the windows. I could see the curiosity and perhaps a little bewilderment in their eyes as they wondered what would be waiting in their new world of education. 

My daughter was in the car. I fought back a few tears and my tummy flipped a little with my own anxiety about what the school year would bring. The image of the masked students on the bus will stick with me for a long time. Moments like this punctuate the realities of life during a pandemic. 

I was dubious about school resuming. How was this really going to work? There were questions about class sizes and movement of students through the hallways, compliance with physical distancing, and mask wearing. 

What about the students and educators who are immuno-compromised? If in-school learning pauses again will there be equity in the delivery of programming to ensure support for all students? 

The last month has been one of the biggest tests for our educational system. The short answer questions are being marked and most parents will give a passing grade but the long essay is still going to take a while. We’re all hoping that by the end of the first term there will be full marks for everyone who helped keep our kids in school. 

This fall brings many opportunities for learning and gaining new perspective 

We know that the current low, almost nonexistent (as of press time) case load of COVID-19 in Nova Scotia has been like bonus points going into an exam for the back to school plan. Regardless of your position on the Atlantic bubble, the diligence of our health department and the work of our schools (public, private, and post-secondary) who cautiously welcomed students back has been part of this initial success. 

The magnitude of virus testing and oversight on distancing at our places of higher learning has all played a role in the safe return of students and the safety of the public at large. This term will be one of the greatest indicators of how we move forward as a province and begin to rebuild our economy. 

This fall brings many opportunities for learning and gaining new perspective on many aspects of our lives. From how we spend time with our family, our relationship with and appreciation for nature, and the importance of self-care continue to get bumped up on the priority list. 

The pursuit of purpose is driving many of us these days. You may have noticed this in your kids. The issues around systemic racism and the environment are big conversations that our children are ready to have, in an age-appropriate way. 

In future issues of Our Children, we’ll work to bring you more stories giving children a greater voice on the issues that matter most to them, learning how we as parents can open our ears and listen to what they have to say. We start by talking with student Sinjin Moser about his vegan lifestyle. 

He has found his purpose in making choices that reflect his beliefs on compassion for animals and our impact on the environment. His lifestyle has opened another avenue for education as he learns more about his personal nutrition and life skills in the kitchen. 

As parents we all had the opportunity last spring to glean some insight into how our children learn. While we all scrambled to find study spaces at home we found out that not all kids learn best at the kitchen table. Heather Laura Clarke brings us some ideas on how to create study spaces that work to keep our young learners focused and give them a chance to express their style. 

A theme that we will always give space to on our pages is mental wellness. Starr Cunningham, president and CEO of the Mental Health Foundation of Nova Scotia, shares some advice on how to flex our mental fitness so we can learn how to manage the stress in our life, and help our kids do the same. And mask-wearing—or not—is a source of great stress in some homes. Kim Hart MacNeill debunks a few myths around mask wearing while giving great advice that will help create safe habits.

Tracy Stuart guided Our Children last year and is now moving onto new challenges; I’m pleased to step into the editor’s shoes. Thanks to our advertisers and readers for your continued support and belief in our connections to community. I wish you a healthy and joyful fall as we learn from each other. Air hugs and elbow bumps to all!  

Read more from our Fall 2020 edition of Our Children.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *