We need not look that far to know children can be adversely affected when something terrible happens to the world they live in. In England, World War II meant that nearly two million children had to be evacuated from their homes as the war raged on. And that means they had to endure rationing and living with people they’d never met before, not to mention get into gas mask training. The worst part? One out of every 10 deaths, when the Blitz of London transpired starting the year 1940, were children.
In America, children may not be as drastically affected today during the pandemic compared to during the war. For one, child deaths are relatively low even months into the health issue. But you can’t help but notice. More and more children are missing kindergarten, many unenrolling at the last minute. It seems parents are caught in an extremely tight situation: letting their child go to in-person schooling or have him learn from home to be nurtured. The former would mean greater risk to the virus, and the latter more responsibilities at home.
Indeed, education may not be an immediate need. Compared to food and other essentials, a child can live without proper education. But, the long-term effects are truly devastating for the children’s future—reason enough policymakers should intervene. And act fast.
Kids Losing Momentum
It may seem uneventful. Having a child skip their early schooling may not be something to be worried about. But an early-childhood survey done by the University of Oregon (Center for Translational Neuroscience) shows that many kids are unenrolled during the early months of the pandemic. Billed as Rapid Assessment on Pandemic Impact (RAPID), the survey gathered needed information on families with children of ages five and younger.
The decision may sound simple. Parents can choose to enroll their kids in the fall of 2021, an action called “red shirting.” Or these kids could go start grade school without the benefit of kindergarten. Many states do not require kindergarten to enroll in elementary.
But skipping kindergarten altogether can leave children unprepared for the first grade. Without early preparation, young kids are at a severe disadvantage when entering grade school. As UNICEF stresses, early education is vital for children to develop their social, emotional, and mental skills as early as possible. Education, the august body details, is a fundamental right of every child.
In a sense, this is also why quality child care matters, especially for working parents. Child care allows parents to focus on their work while their children are cared for by experts who can help develop the children’s mental and social aspects in the right way.
Moreover, looking into a child care franchise cost in this regard could be a wise decision for any entrepreneur. Not only are they dealing with a very sensible business opportunity, but they are also helping young children develop well to become good citizens of the country.
Policymakers to the Rescue
It’s true. The pandemic has made us reactive. Confronted with an existential threat, we covered the things that matter most to us, at least at the onset. Call it a knee-jerk reaction. Thus, the conversation pertaining to children’s education was geared mostly toward short-term needs. We’re talking about minimizing virus risks and connectivity issues.
But policymakers need to take a long-term look. Firsthand, they need to address the negative effects of kindergarten irrelevance. For one, they can work to deepen the capacities of teachers to help preschool kids. We’re talking about establishing better school routines and helping the children develop better social-emotional skills.
Above and beyond, policymakers need to put greater emphasis on preschool education. And that should mean detailing early education as compulsory, and not just an option parents can wave. Indeed, instituting compulsory minimum school ages is a great start. To date, there are but 12 states in the whole country that requires children to attend kindergarten. There definitely is a lot of work to do.
And yes, there’s a great need for a budget for education. But kindergarten withdrawals are complicating the situation. To note, public schools are funded in part by the enrollments of the year prior. So a largely minimized kindergarten numbers mean far lesser budget for grade schools.
This is another loophole that policymakers in government must look into. Without a drastic change in the funding model, many public schools of low-income districts would get far lesser than they need.
Then, there’s the case for the vaccine. If vaccines won’t be available for children by fall, chances are schools won’t be fully open by then. The good news is a vaccine is already on the roll. It should trickle down to everyone in due time.