What Really Matters?

By Kelsie Castro

“Our emotions need to be as educated as our intellect. It is important to know how to feel, how to respond, and how to let life in so that it can touch you.”

– Jim Rohn

It’s no secret that the end of this school year looks vastly different than what many of us are used to. Schools are closed, children are at home, and parents are trying to find ways to keep up with all of it while still maintaining their own balance. The current atmosphere is stressful, to say the least, and a lot of us are hoping that things will shift soon enough.

One thing that doesn’t seem to be changing however, is this societal anxiety about school “readiness.” Even in a time when our plates are already full of things to worry about, we are still seeing so much conversation about things children are missing by not being in the classroom these last few months. Educators, administrators, parents and many other people involved in education seem to be overwhelmed by the idea that children may not be academically prepared for the next school year. Even being on the outside of these conversations I am still hearing concerns about how the children will get graded, how teachers will have to adjust their whole curriculums, and how parents will have to tackle mountains of work just to keep children on track.

But as I listen to these concerns, I wonder, is that what really matters right now?

What many parents and educators tend to forget is that when we are going through our biggest struggles, that is often when we see what really helps us survive. And while society may value things like adding and subtracting or writing with correct punctuation and grammar, those things usually aren’t what carries us through these difficult times.

When we really stop and reflect on what is happening right now and the effect it is having on our children, and even on us, I think what we see most is that it’s the skills we often neglect that are helping us through. It’s patience, understanding, resilience, empathy, creativity, and innovation. It’s being able to ask thoughtful questions, solve difficult problems, to listen, and see outside perspectives and ideas. It’s being open, being present, and being flexible even when it seems like there is little flexibility.

These are the things that are saving us as children, parents, teachers, and people at this time: all trying to navigate something that is brand new. That is what is helping us get through it, and not having or practicing those skills is what is often causing the most trouble. This is what we need when things get hard, this is what we need when we are faced with a challenge. This is what we need to be prepared for the unexpected. And this is what children need to be “prepared” for our world.

So when we look forward to the future, instead of asking ourselves what our children are missing or what we need to catch them upon, we should ask how we can take hold of this moment. We should explore all of the thoughts and feelings that come with it and really dive into developing those skills alongside our children. Skills that will help us tackle this challenge and any other challenge that might come our way soon. Because if we are wondering what really matters right now, it’s that children have space and time to find a way to cope and move forward in this big thing we are all working through.

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