The last year was hard and chaotic for many of us. The COVID pandemic has changed the way we work, educate our children, and engage with our communities. While most of us wouldn’t wish to repeat it, there is something to be said about reflecting back on all of the things we learned last year.
To start, our team at St. Barnabas School has been reminded of how strong and resilient this community is. We are passionate about providing the best education possible, and we couldn’t have done it over the last year without the commitment from our teachers, parents, and students to make the most out of a weird year.
In addition to what 2020 taught us about ourselves, it taught us a lot about education and the factors that can make or break a child’s success in the classroom. These lessons will inform the way we all move forward in pursuit of a top-notch education for all of our students. The families in our community have adjusted gracefully to the changes that came about due to the pandemic, and as we move forward and find ourselves on the other side of this experience we hope to bring these lessons about education with us.
Education Goes Beyond Academics
We’ve always known that education comes down to more than just academics. This is why we have always made athletics and the arts a priority in our community. But the experience of working and living through a pandemic cemented in our minds the importance of all of the small, unseen learning that happens on our campus each day. We’ve seen firsthand, and parents have shared with us their experiences, how children have struggled academically in ways they didn’t expect. Even the smartest, most studious students struggled at home in isolation without their teachers and peers around them.
Also, some of the most important lessons kids learn in school are relational. They learn how to collaborate and compromise while working on group projects. They learn how to resolve conflicts on the playground, and how to extend kindness to strangers in the lunchroom. True education extends far beyond reading, writing, and arithmetic.
Children Crave Relationships
We’ve heard from so many parents about how their children have struggled through the lack of social interaction with their peers. Just like adults, children thrive in relationships, and they also learn so much from being around one another. During the school day, in addition to investing in their education, children learn to cultivate strong relationships with one another. We know that strong friendships increase children’s self-esteem, encourage trust-building, and help them build confidence. The time that some students spent in isolation from friends in 2020 were a hindrance to this social education that is so important to their development.
Computers Are A Great Resource But Not A Great Teacher
If you have educated your children online at home at all this year you know that there is a limit to how long your children will sit and stare at a computer and actually be productive. We work so hard to limit their screen time when it comes to the television, video games, and cell phones, and now we're seeing the impacts of that time spent in front of a screen. To begin with, it’s much harder for children (or adults) to remain engaged in their education when they’re physically removed from the classroom. As much of a blessing as it has been to be able to offer simultaneous streaming of our classes, we find that some students have struggled to stay focused on their education during the long day at home on the computer.
Parents And Teachers Make Good Partners
One of the most positive and heartwarming things we experienced in the pursuit of providing excellent education through a pandemic is the importance of parents and teachers working together on behalf of their kids. We’ve always known that a good education requires engaged parents, but the last year has been proof of the selflessness of the families in our community and we are so grateful.
Like you, we hope that in the next 6 months we’ll be able to return to life as we knew it before. We’ll bid adieu to masks and distancing and your kids will get back to enjoying education as it once was. But, in the meantime, we're happy to be reminded of the small things that make up a successful education. Our hearts are warmed to know that your students crave connection and relationship as much as we do, and we can't wait to get back to education as it should be.
In the meantime, we thank you and your family for doing what it takes to keep all of us safe and healthy during this time. As we push on through the rest of 2021, our team and community are here for you and your family so please reach out to us anytime. And if you’re not yet a member of the St. Barnabas School community but would like to be, our doors are open to you.