Back to school, a visit to the past

When returning to class this September, it’s wise to take stock of what we’ve learned during the pandemic. Kita Szpak reflects



Hearing the words “back to school” conjures up lots of things: big-time memories, familiarity of classmates, a place walked to or bussed to umpteen times, routine where subject matter and time are so interwoven and comfortable, it’s automatic like eating and sleeping.

No wonder the pandemic has been so brutal — it has upset this not only educational stability but cultural mainstay to us all. Given this huge interruption, of course parents want their kids back to school. Your remembrances of school days become the blueprint by which you would like your children to learn by even if some of you experienced unpleasant times in the classroom. The yearning for the familiar overrides its drawbacks. It’s here that lessons can be learned.

Though challenges have existed in the last two years, there have been nuggets of value that may prompt a re-thinking about the whole notion of going back to school. Family time together necessitated greater communication and understanding and patience with your little ones. Perhaps a shift occurred in the manner you dealt with your kids or activities you did with them — maybe both.

The pandemic prompted moving into the unknown, discovering new things about yourself and your family that would otherwise never have occurred. It’s likely there were moments of alarm, dismay, sadness, confusion but were there instances of excitement, spontaneity, exuberance, fun, and laughter for you, too?  

The quality of life that has been uncovered with your family in recent months, can make their way into the back to school. Perhaps it is an acknowledgement that physical activity is integral to a child’s development and should be more thoroughly integrated at school. Maybe it is a focus on nature and how, in helping it, we help ourselves and each other. It could also be the recognition that children learn differently — not all in a row — as decades of schooling would prefer it. The flexibility you learned in dealing with your kids in over the last two years could be translated into to a more flexible learning environment for them in the school system.

It is a gentle call to action at a time when seeing what was isn’t necessarily what should continue simply because it was. The world has been faced with the prospect of growing up fast. You’ve had to grow up fast, too. With this reckoning, comes the opportunity and responsibility to show the way for your kids by participating with them in their school days and integrating what you’ve personally learned along the way.

The movie “Back to the Future” comes to mind. To get to the past, Marty had to use every means of the present to propel him there. Use every means of the present to ensure back to school propels your kids to a remarkable future.