My 5 year old twins have certainly been thrown into a wild school ride with starting kindergarten this year. We began distance learning through our local public school and all things considered, it was actually going somewhat well. Of course not our first choice and not at all how we know our children need to be learning but we were willing to give it our all and hold out for in person schooling to resume. During our time distance learning, I will say we were very pleased with the resources the school was providing and how organized our specific teacher was. She managed to keep 20 kindergarteners engaged and learning through the computer screen and we feel this spoke highly to not only her skills as a teacher but also character traits like patience, innovation, and endurance.

After 6+ weeks of distance learning and not seeing much push from our district toward returning in person, we made the difficult decision to enroll the twins in a local charter school that was well underway with in-person learning plans. We’d heard great things about this school and knew plenty of families who loved it, and after touring we can certainly see why. The school values hands on, group based learning. Children are often seen in small groups scattered across the courtyard enjoying learning out in the fresh air. Our twins are in separate classes (which we feel is best for them) but with such a small school the two classes per grade are often collaborating and working together, which is something we think will be valuable as our kids move up in grade. As a first time school mom amidst all of the COVID restrictions, I enjoyed being able to walk them to their classes the first week and now as I drop them off I can watch as they make their way across the courtyard. I realize no in-person schooling environment feels “normal” this year, but so far it seems like this school hasn’t missed a beat in keeping energy and spirits high, learning fun, and students engaged.

Ultimately for our family the switch in schools this year came down to knowing our kids needed to be in person, among peers, and off the computer screen. As I said we were actually pleased with the way distance learning was “working” and if it weren’t for our district showing no initiative to return, we probably would have stuck it out longer. Now having the two experiences to compare and seeing what restrictions the public districts are implementing, we are so grateful for the chance to be at a smaller school where it seems we’ll be able to be a bit more clued in as to what the day to day looks like.

Again as a first time school parent it’s hard to gauge anything this school year specifically. But for now our family is happy to have found this charter school and the approach they’re taking to manage such different and challenging times.