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Making the case for kindergarten

By Alphonso Harrell, Atlantic City kindergarten teacher

Teaching kindergarten has never been an easy job. People are always telling me, “I don’t know how you do it!” but teaching kindergarten via remote instruction is a totally different kind of challenge.

Kindergarteners can’t read or write yet. We’re just beginning to introduce them to what the whole concept of “school” is like. So transitioning them to online learning is challenging, to say the least.

At the same time, their parents are struggling. Kindergarteners can’t go online and work on Google Classroom independently the way their older siblings might be able to do. They need a parent to focus on them and their learning.

During a global pandemic, when people have lost their jobs, or they’re struggling to keep themselves healthy and their families safe while they continue to work providing essential services, or they’re preoccupied with a family member’s health situation, or even just preoccupied with how and what to feed their families, they can’t devote the kind of attention to their kindergartener’s learning that they would like.

I am finding that I need to be a salesman for their child’s education. I have to find any argument, any inducement possible to encourage them to make their child’s education a priority. I am more connected to the parents in my class than ever before. I am calling, texting, and emailing every day. And if that doesn’t work, then I’m offering to stop by their home.

I’ve been through challenging times before. I served in Marines and I have been an educator for many years. But this is the greatest challenge I have faced. I want my students and their families to know that we will get through this together.