THE EDITOR: A Montessori guide for the last 28 years, it has been my experience that without connection, learning cannot take place. This is because social/emotional development goes hand in hand with physical development and academic progress.
It is no secret that it is difficult to establish strong or genuine connections over electronic means. Electronic “connections” feel cold and impersonal and children’s learning, both academic and otherwise, depends on a feeling of safety and comfort with their teacher. After 680 days, all school-aged children would have never met their current teachers. Their last in-person experience would have been two years ago and for the youngest ones, they would never even had the experience.
I am no expert in mental health or the science behind it all but as a mom of two, one of whom has never been to any kind of school, I have seen the behavioural changes in them. I have experienced the shift in our own mother/child relationship. It has affected the quality of our connection because they lack variety in their social interactions.
In my profession, I know the importance for children to build connections with adults and other children, outside of their immediate family. Teachers, neighbours, coaches, even the shopkeeper at a frequently visited veggie mart. This is especially important if their family unit is an unstable, unhealthy or unsafe one.
A couple of months ago, the singer/songwriter Adele was asked by actress Emma Thompson if there was anyone from her childhood who was particularly influential to her success today and she named her English teacher from when she was eight years old. This is how important in-person school is for children – it can change the course of their lives. School is a lifeline for our most disadvantaged youth.
Most of the rest of the world has made in-person school work through the pandemic. Why not TT? We make it work at the grocery, malls, banks, the beach. Why not school?
Let our children reconnect. Let our children go back to school.