There was a time when a song by the Rolling Stones, Start me up!, could encapsulate the annual anticipation I felt the night before school was to open for the new year. Today I wonder how parents and guardians are dealing with the so-called new normal that shadows people everywhere. Now, it seems to me a more appropriate anthem might be Puccini’s Nessum dorma, translated as No one is sleeping.
In the August 31, 2020 Zits comic strip a teacher addresses his class and says he is giving them a quiz to see how much they remember of last year’s work. That’s akin to the first ELA essay of the year, What I did on my summer vacation.
When Matt and I would make our presentations in local schools, we were often greeted by shouts of recognition from the children: Hey, I remember you! Call on me this time. Some children even called us by name. Some even inform us that we would not be able to trick them this year. Oh, the certitude of the young!
When I did some research on memory, I found some interesting points. For example, what we know controls how we store information, how we organize that information in our brains and how we get it out of storage. Also, there is a far greater retention of information if there is a familiarity with the material and that material has meaningfulness to us. (Can’t you just hear some high schooler asking the teacher about applications of the quadratic equation in everyday life?)
The isolation imposed by the potential for infection severely impacted all students’ performances. An unexpected teaching drought hit the planet and learning in the modern world suffered its worst year ever. But school isn’t just ABC’s. I recently spoke to a social worker who is the mother of a nine year old boy. She said that her son’s circle of friends has shrunken to the point that she worries about his coping mechanisms. She spoke of how playtime involves herself, her husband and son. “He needs friends of his age,” she said.
An opinion piece in Newsday, Sunday August 30, 2020 addresses the plight of special needs people who have been under continuous quarantine since the beginning of the pandemic.
Print and other media report of the increase on campuses throughout the country of new positive Covid-19 test results in collegians.
Newsday had published on August 23rd this year, Safety on the Sands. The article reported on the efforts by workers at Jones Beach to ensure social distancing. In an accompanying photo, a worker certainly appears to be using the same techniques Matt and I do to describe personal space: arms spread out in airplane mode.
How does this fit in with Rose Brucia and stranger safety? Gradually we will become more open, inching towards more socialization. I worry that after months of 24/7 contact with and oversight by parents and guardians, children might be a little too willing to get close to people, any person they initially deem as safe. I worry that our safety lessons can become pushed off the already monstrously crowded plate that families find on the tables in their homes. Asking you to do additional work is too much. Access our web site, www.rosebrucia.org and go to our list of prerecorded lessons. Use them if and when you can. We’ve got your back. If you use the lessons, encourage your child to ask questions. Rhymes or songs work very well with the primary grade students. You could try this Safety Skills Song to the tune of The Farmer in the Dell:
Someone Calls My Name
Someone calls my name
A person I don’t know
Unless they say the secret word
With them I’ll never go!
A stranger walks towards me
And takes a step or two
No nearer can the stranger get
I mirror what they do!
Additionally, you can have your children teach you the lessons they have learned. Anything helps.
We have your back. Practice social distancing. Wash your hands. Wear a mask. Endure. Stay safe.