This has been a transformative school year, to say the least.
At first, the school year began with little to no hiccups in my daughters’ studies. Jiselle is 6 and started virtual kindergarten in September. She has an IEP for speech. My youngest, Jiavanni, started pre-K.
I was able to work from home, which was a huge help for us all. But as much as I taught them their lessons and interacted with them, I was no replacement for their classmates.
To my delight, Jiselle was assigned to a class led by a Black male educator. Even the leadership of her school’s board is Black — and that means a lot to me. As the school year progressed, I saw the faculty not only fight for students to succeed, but also for their families to thrive. I had faith that the school was doing everything it possibly could for the students, and I couldn’t have been more relieved.
Even though I was at ease, virtual learning was still new for all of us. And while Jiselle was eager to take part, I knew this new normal would come with its share of challenges. Now in the second half of the school year, I’m amazed at how much distance learning has impacted Jiselle’s growth, both personally and in her studies.
Here are the five skills that virtual learning has helped her to improve:
Virtual learning took Jiselle’s independence to a whole new level. With little to no help from me, she began to jump-start her morning routine. She started picking out her own clothes, organizing her school materials, and logging herself into class. Some days, she even made her own lunch. I was shocked at how much she didn’t really need me.
My once very quiet child was now a social butterfly. Jiselle started interacting online with her classmates whenever she could get the chance. They talked about everything and even found a way to virtually play hide-and-seek. I admit it was the cutest and most random activity, but it made me so eager for them to get back to in-person learning.
Virtual learning has helped Jiselle find her voice. One day, she explained to a substitute teacher that she didn’t want to stand for the Pledge of Allegiance until “we all are treated the same.” On another occasion, she stood up to a classmate when it was her turn to talk. These moments of self-advocacy have truly made me proud.
I’ve always teased Jiselle about not being bossy but having strong leadership skills. And this year, we’ve seen her grow her leadership skills. Jiselle loves leading her classmates in lessons and correcting any misbehavior that happens in class. If she has to follow the rules, so does everyone else.
Jiselle has always been very kind to others. This year, she has shown us that she understands people and their unique backgrounds. For example, she once noticed that one classmate rarely has pencils or paper. So, one day she asked if we could take some school supplies over to her classmate’s home.
When her teacher was having a rough day, she asked to make him a basket to help cheer him up. Even though we are disconnected from in-person interactions, Jiselle was still able to pick up on someone else’s feelings and needs.
I often wonder if this same progress would have taken place had Jiselle started in-person learning. But either way, I’m proud — proud of her growth and glad that we gave virtual learning a fair shot.
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About the author
About the author
Jacquelyn Randle is a St. Louis-based educator and founder of C&E Reflections, Inc., an independent publishing company focused on amplifying the voices of women and persons of color.