Did Young Children Miss out on a Positive First Impression of Education with the Pandemic?


Ms. Abbie Reed

Kenwood’s Child Development students back in the classroom with their preschool aged students this school year.

Bree Tomlinson

When we went into lockdown in March 2020, one of the biggest concerns was the children and their education. Especially for young children who already didn’t have much or didn’t have any experience with school prior to the pandemic so their first educational experience was virtual from home.

Now as we’ve returned to school there are second graders who are only officially having their first full year of in person school, and first graders who are in a school building for the first time ever.

This leads to the concern of whether younger children missed out on having that first positive learning experience that is typically had in the primary grades? Kenwood’s Ms. Abby Reed, who has young children of her own, but also oversees Kenwood’s preschool as part of the Child Development Program shares, Those first five years are vital to a child’s success in school.”

 The preschool years like 3-5 year olds can experience through Kenwood’s Child Development Program and kindergarten through second grade are big community and habit building years for young learners.  But with schools closed last year, including Kenwood’s preschool program, young learners missed out on that first positive education experience.

Many of us older kids have childhood memories of events such as field days, pep rallies and all school assemblies, lunch with their teacher as a reward, throwing school holiday parties where they can bring in snacks of their choice, and having parents come in to eat lunch with them during their elementary school days.

Though we are back in person, many young students are still missing several of these experiences due to current COVID restrictions. Mandating masks, no food in classrooms, no large school gatherings, and no visitors puts a halt to these fun activities young children use to experience their first few years of school. Mrs. Reed notes that she feels sad for her own elementary age kids, “I worry that not having normal school experience will impact their social skills because a big part of those grades is learning how to be part of a classroom community.”

So we, as “the big kids”, must help the younger generation feel the same excitement we felt about education in elementary school, as living through such a chaotic time will leave such a huge impact on their perception of education.

Because of these regulations outside of our control, teachers and older students have resorted to finding alternative activities that can help young children have that memorable positive experience of their early years of school. Last year in the middle of the pandemic Mrs.Fulcher’s Kenwood Cares Club organized weekly sessions for the Kenwood Cares Club students to read to Middlesex Elementary second graders. Ms. Fulcher shares, “The high school students seeing the young kids’ excitement over simply being read to really opened the high school students’ eyes. Teaching high schoolers [virtually] with their cameras off and a lack of participation, compared to the elementary school students and how excited they were to have high schoolers read to them made me realize how much they were craving that in-person positive attention and interaction.”

Mrs. Fulcher is hopeful this year to actually go in-person and read to more second graders in their classrooms, or even reconnect with the same second graders, who are now third graders. She expresses that “some follow up with them would be really nice to show them that we still care and that the big kids are still interested”.

Our Child Development preschool for potty trained 3-5 year olds resumed classes a few weeks ago at the end of October. This first session of class is Monday, Tuesday, and Wed from 8-12 and will run until Christmas break. Preschool will be back in session then again in February. Interested families can email Ms. Reed at [email protected] about enrolling their preschool student for that vital first positive experience of education.

Though students are required to wear masks and do lots of hand washing, Kenwood’s preschool program which is ran through Kenwood’s CTE Child Development Program, is a great experience to get young learners into the school habit of following daily routines in the classroom, build community with classmates and teachers including their young teachers in training, and gain a first positive experience with education.