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While most schools across the country returned to in-person instruction last year, many families opted to stick with virtual learning or switched to homeschooling. And for them, the start of this new school year brings a range of new anxieties. Geoff Bennett spoke with Kimberly Back and her daughter, Delilah, about transitioning back to the classroom.
And turn to back to school season. While most schools across the country returned to in person instruction last year, many families opted to stick with the virtual instruction or transition to homeschooling. And for them, the start of this new school year is bringing with it a new range of anxieties.
Some students and even their parents.
No Name Given:
My daughter just went back to school today. She is now a sixth grader.
Taking to social media like TikTok to share their stories. Kimberly Back of Flat Gap, Kentucky last year homeschooled her two girls, second grader Rowan and ninth grader Delilah. Because she says she was unsure of the school policies and COVID protocols. For Delilah, that means making one of the most nerve wracking academic transitions after year spent away.
How's it been so far?
It's been good. I've been having a lot of fun with my classes.
Do you have any anxieties given that you hadn't been in school, in-person for at least two years? Maybe more than that?
Yes. Mainly it was just like, it was like talking to people because like you used to be just like a Google meet for like little bit or texting, not like long social interactions.
And Kimberly, for your youngest Rowan, who's now going into second grade. What does it been like for her? I'm sure there's a number of things that I think a lot of parents would take for granted, the kids pick up in school that she might not have been exposed to?
Absolutely, it's been sort of full throttle fun mode for her. And it's been interesting to see, you know, sort of all the quirks that kids learn in kindergarten, she's doing that with, you know, a couple of years of maturity. So in a way, some things have been easier. But, you know, she's also making these, you know, in person connections with her peers for the first time. So every day when she comes home, it's, you know, talking about meeting new friends, and, you know, we would go together like to playgrounds and parks and things, but, you know, this is her first time having all of those interactions with, you know, people who are aged at school. So that's been a very welcome experience for her.
Kimberly, I was going to ask you too, what advice you would have for parents who are helping their kids face any anxieties they might have about returning to school after now, what? Two and a half years of this pandemic?
I think the most important factor is communication and making sure to check in with your kids. And I think that advice can apply to all grade levels, you know, talk to them about those in-person anxieties, those fears, you know, keep a two way, one a teammate communication with them and you know, share your own fears within reason, you know, to talk about that, you know, you can be open with each other if something's going on, or something's concerning, you know, that they can come to you and talk to you. And then also, you know, be sure to utilize school resources, you know, all the teachers and administrators are there to, you know, love the kids and embrace them again, they're just as excited to be back as, you know, the kids are, and families are. So just keep those lines of communication open.
So Delilah, for other kids who might be going back to school in-person for the first time. Now, that you've been back at school for a week or two, what advice would you give them in facing their anxieties?
Probably just go for it. I mean, literally, on the first day of school, I was bombardment — I was kind of like, attacked by a friend that I had, that I made over the pandemic. And she basically brought me over to her whole friend group. And it turned out that it was like some people who I recognized like one kid was that from my elementary school, that others she's talked about before, so just, it was exciting to just go for it, who knows.
Kimberly and Delilah Back of Flat Gap, Kentucky. Thanks so much for being with us, we appreciate it.
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Lorna Baldwin is an Emmy and Peabody award winning producer at the PBS NewsHour. In her two decades at the NewsHour, Baldwin has crisscrossed the US reporting on issues ranging from the water crisis in Flint, Michigan to tsunami preparedness in the Pacific Northwest to the politics of poverty on the campaign trail in North Carolina. Farther afield, Baldwin reported on the problem of sea turtle nest poaching in Costa Rica, the distinctive architecture of Rotterdam, the Netherlands and world renowned landscape artist, Piet Oudolf.
Ali Rogin is a correspondent for PBS News Weekend and a foreign affairs producer at the PBS NewsHour.
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