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What is your child learning this year?

This year has been one for the history books! If you are a parent, you are probably concerned about what your child is learning during such a chaotic year. While academic subjects may suffer, here are some reasons why you shouldn’t worry about your child’s learning.

Children’s brains do not turn off just the second they step out of a school building. Children are learning every minute they are awake. Learning doesn’t just happen in a school. Parents teach their children lessons for five years before they ever set foot in a school. Think about it. By the time a child reaches kindergarten, they have already learned how to sit, crawl, stand, walk, talk and use the restroom.

They have learned how to put on clothing, not to touch a hot stove and how to sing the theme song of their favorite television show. Once a child is school aged, their ability to learn is not magically regulated to the hours of 8-3 while inside a brick-and-mortar school. The “new normal” allows our students a unique opportunity to learn non-academic lessons that are critically important for the rest of their lives.

Independence: Students are now in the position of having to do school work on their own. Often parents are working and students are in daycare centers. Students have to be responsible for logging in to lessons and actually doing the work by themselves.

Patience and flexibility: Technology is not foolproof. It glitches, and often. Work will be lost and have to be redone. Networks will be slow. Learning platforms will go offline. Patience is the name of the game in 2020.

Resilience: Students are learning that even when things are different, they can still find a way to do things even if it isn’t what they are used to doing. They are learning that if you don’t get what you want when you want it, it’s not the end of the world — and they will have interesting stories to tell their grandchildren when they need to teach them about adversity.

Prioritization: What’s more important, attending a crowded event or keeping your family safe? What and who have you REALLY missed? Who has kept you safe and helped you during this trying time? Students are discovering what is truly important to them and what is just filler. They are learning who supports them, and who doesn’t.

Community: Students are learning that they are part of a community and their actions affect that community either positively or negatively.

Accountability: If you don’t do the work, you don’t get good grades. This lesson needs to be learned whether we are remote learning or face-to-face.

Grace: Everyone has been affected by the pandemic. Nerves are frayed, and stress is high. But since these things are happening to everyone, this situation gives us more empathy for one another and multiple opportunities to bestow grace and kindness to each other.

In the grand scheme of a lifetime of learning, these are the lessons that will serve them long after a poor report card or a standardized test score is forgotten. Do you remember your ACT or SAT score? Do you remember what grade you received in eighth grade math class? Have you ever been asked about your academic grades in a job interview? Bosses rarely care about grades, but they do care about an employee’s ability to prioritize, be accountable and work independently with patience, resilience and grace.

Sonya Ashby is a National Board Certified teacher from Wood County. She is also vice president of AFT-Wood County.