As things stand Little, being indeed little, is due to go back to school on the first of June (if the government deems it safe to do so). But should I send my child back to school?

My answer to that question can change at any point of the day. I feel trapped in a horrible situation where I don’t know what to do for the best.

should I send my child back to school

Sending him back

Politics aside, as I can’t say that any other political party would have handled things any differently, I see this as a very personal decision for all parents.

On the one hand I do think he is very low risk of getting the virus, and of becoming seriously ill, if he did get the virus. But I do believe the risk to his education is high.

For all those that are saying the early years don’t matter, talk to someone with a qualification in EYFS. The early years absolutely do matter. They matter in so many ways other than learning their ABC’s. Kids this age aren’t just learning about tricky words and split digraphs. They are learning about their place in the world, they are learning about friendship. Their attention spans are being stretched, and they are learning to sit still and to listen.

And to those that say all the kids are in the same boat. They are not. Little is a step behind. Only three years ago he was miles behind his peers due to his speech delay. My worry is that he will fall further behind because he may not catch up as quickly as everyone else. I don’t pressure my kids to be top of the class, I just want them to be the best they can be. Education is something I value highly.

I just want the best for him.

At home I fell like I am failing him. Home school started well. He wore his uniform every day. I tried so hard to make it as fun as possible. No pressure, just little bits of work and lots of breaks. But as the weeks have gone on his enthusiasm has disappeared. I have spent so much time that I don’t have, looking for extra resources, things I think would get him engaged. But right now nothing is working. And whilst I am trying not to put pressure on him and I am letting him draw and colour in as much as he wants. It’s not sustainable long term. For the trees or for his education.

Is it selfish of me to say I am finding it hard? It is exhausting to paint on a smile and be full of enthusiasm for phonics, when I am already tired from working late and not sleeping well. I am stressed about finding the time for the work that I need to do. Feeling guilty that Big is not getting as much of my time and support for his work. I am fed up of the mess that is accumulating around my ears, because it doesn’t matter how often I tidy, with two kids at home all day the house is always a state. And whilst some people can turn a blind eye to that, I can’t. It stresses me out. I like tidiness and order.

Having the kids at home all day and being teacher, cleaner, cook, referee, and entertainer, whilst trying to hold down a job at the same time is full on.

I’m genuinely concerned that after fielding a billion questions a day, “ask Alexa” has become my catchphrase!

Is it wrong to crave the slight bit of normality for us all that returning to school would bring? And I know that there are people who think that actually wanting some time away from your child means you are an undeserving mother and don’t deserve kids. But for the rest of us normal people, having a bit of down time makes us better parents.

should I send my child back to school

Keeping him home

The thought of him getting sick terrifies me. If this kid gets sick, he does it with full commitment. He refuses all medication. He has scared the hell out of us several times and ended up in hospital.

And what if he brings it home and makes myself or my husband sick? What if we get seriously ill with it? And what about Big, who at 10 years old could be more affected than the younger kids?

What if, what if, what if?

Then there are the teachers. I genuinely love the school they go to. It has been a part of my life for six years now, and it is an amazing community. I hate the thought of putting those who teach him and care for him at risk. That in turn they are putting their own families at risk. That one of the most important and most undervalued professions are now being asked to put themselves at risk for my kids. Should I be protecting the teachers by keeping him home?

We don’t have to social distance in our little bubble at home. Their are cuddles a plenty. And whilst I know that social distancing is not feasible at his age in a school setting, I know they must try. But I don’t want it drilled into him to stay away from his friends, or that he can’t share that book, or sit with his friend at lunch. I want his teacher to be able to hug him if he gets upset, or help him do up his shoes if he gets stuck. I want him to feel safe and secure and happy and loved, just like he used to at school. What I don’t want is for him to emerge from all this with some kind of complex about physical touch.

Life at home can be hard.

But the lack of plans and places to go has also brought us all closer together. We are happy and safe in our little bubble, and the thought of that bubble bursting is scary. With no vaccine or cure imminent has anything really changed?

The school he returns to, won’t be the same as the one he left. I worry that another peak will put us into lockdown again, and the stop, start and stop again will be unsettling for him.

People I respect are saying they won’t send their kids back, and that in turn makes me question myself and doubt myself. I know that getting the younger kids back at school is crucial to getting the economy moving again. The two things are inextricably linked. But is it too soon?

Is the economy being put before the welfare of my child?

The numbers don’t seem to be coming down enough. On the day the schools closed there were 39 deaths in England. Today there were 428 deaths. How much is that number going to change in two weeks?

should I send my child back to school

Where does that leave me?

If I keep him home, where do we draw the line? What if we are no closer to a vaccine or cure come September? What if we face another year of this? Do I deny both my children the education they deserve? Or am I putting them at risk by sending them in?

I can genuinely see both sides of the argument. There is no judgement here for whatever decision another parent makes. People have to do what is right for them. Indeed some people do not even have the choice, and I know I am lucky to be in the position where I do. But it is not an easy choice.

Honestly, right now I am tying myself in knots over it. Should I send my child back to school? The what if’s are driving me crazy. All I do know, is that in this crazy world we are living in, things change quickly, and a lot can happen in two weeks.

I think whatever decision I make, I will be questioning whether it was the right one.

Should I send my child back to school?

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Claire Kirby

5 Comments on Should I send my child back to school?

  1. Thank you for this piece! You are facing the same questions as I do. I still after all this time haven’t quite decided along my partner what would be best. My oldest is in y1, and although not starting on the 1st of June, he should be returning on the third week…we also love the school and know they are doing their best. We are still looking at how the numbers ale evolving to make a decision closer to that week.

  2. A really great post. I feel the same as you, but with my daughter going back to preschool. Here in Cornwall we are lucky that the cases of Covid-19 are low and the rick of catching it are pretty low. My 4 year old desperately needs the structure of preschool life. She is very advanced for her age and could have gone into reception last September, but I didn’t want that pressure for her too soon. My husband and I have spoken to her nursery manager and we’ve agreed to send her at the start of June. But seeing so many on social media saying that they won’t be sending their kids back is stressing me out that we’ve made the wrong decision. A part of my view is that this is not going away and something we have to learn to live with and adapt.,
    Apologies for the long comment xx

    • No need to apologise. It’s a complicated decision to make. You are right, we do have to adapt. It didn’t take long for lockdown to be the new normal. I am sure the same will apply to schools. Thanks for commenting x

  3. This is such a thoughtful and balanced piece. I have been finding social media very hard this week as it is so polarised, and lots of people seem to have the attitude that you are a horrible unfit parent if you want your child to go back. I feel exactly the same as you about my Reception age child, and it is a real dilemma whether she should go back for all the reasons for and against you describe.

    I also have a Year 6 child who is DESPERATE to go back. She has been heartbroken at the thought of leaving her much loved primary without the chance to say goodbye, and is so excited that she now may be able to. Transition to secondary school is hard enough anyway, and they are definitely going to miss out on their leavers’ disco, their end of year camping trip and the year 6 show, all of which they have been talking about for literally years. I really hope with all my heart that she is able to go back, even in a somewhat compromised way to get that closure and prepare for the huge change in September.

    I also agree with you that it seems unlikely anything much will have changed by September. It seems really unlikely there will be a cure/vaccine by then. So if there is going to be a horrible new normal of social distancing in schools for the foreseeable future then maybe it makes sense just to get on and give the kids, and teachers, the chance the start getting used to it?

    Anyway, thank you for such a genuine and non-judgemental blog. xx

    • Thanks for your comment. My heart really goes out to the year 6 kids. I think they would benefit from going back and getting a small fraction of that end of year experience. I think I will have to step away from social media to make my decision! Xx

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