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Opinion: Traversing the new school year

At some point in the near future, kids will return to classes to begin the 2020-2021 school year. Whether it is distance learning or on-site classes, I can’t help but wonder how well the families are adapting to this new paradigm. It should be apparent by now just how difficult this system is to operate with a new challenge presenting itself every minute.

I have long been skeptical about the concept of home schooling. Home schooling before COVID-19 occurred for a variety of reasons. Some are health related reasons. Students too fragile for the rigors of the classroom experience can benefit with home instruction. I know my cousin home schooled her daughter so the child could pursue a promising path to the Olympic figure skating team. An unexpected growth spurt put an end to that little girl’s dream. However, she does use her extensive skills in the rink to give lessons and has worked in various ice shows on cruise ships. She also served a few seasons as a one of the Ice Girls, the cheerleading squad for the National Hockey League’s Tennessee Predators.

A child is like a sponge absorbing many things around them all at once. Sending a child to school teaches them so many things. These include the traditional reading, writing, arithmetic in all its many forms, history, civics, music and science, to name just a few.

In addition, school children are taught lessons that do not appear on a class syllabus. We learned decorum, conflict resolution and many other practical social skills.

Paramount among them are how to work and play well with others, people you would not choose to associate with on one’s own. If the classroom experience is eliminated, the lessons are not learned.

Students can learn about diverse cultures, foreign languages and even different foods.

How can any of these tactile lessons be taught if the only people a student has contact with are those online? Even with face-to-face classes, many children feel isolated and alone.

Organized sports teach young people about teamwork, empathy and can be instrumental in the ways of camaraderie, commitment and sportsmanship.

One of the subliminal lessons learned is how important it is to adhere to a schedule. Future employers will benefit from workers who adhere to assigned schedules regardless of how the individual feels about the hours. How can any of this take place with a child who is homeschooled? That discipline can be absent if not learned in childhood.

Many of the lessons learned during the sandbox phase of a person’s life is put to use when the person becomes an adult. Getting to know one’s peers enables us to experience different personalities at a young age. While this talent is not foolproof in determining another person’s reliability, certain reoccurring personality traits are common enough to recognize.

If another prefers to bully everyone in their range in attempts to mold them to their will, that behavior can be found in unpleasant people everywhere. Encountering unpleasant people early gives one the ability to modify their own behavior.

I believe the best way to respond to bullies is by being forceful and calling them on their behavior. While a diplomatic solution is always preferable, some people don’t respond to anything but direct confrontation. Adding a bit of outrageous flair and humor to the discourse, I find, can often be extremely helpful in diffusing a situation.

Most bullies are frightened inside and use this behavior in order to protect themselves from both real and perceived threats. Encountering people with unpleasant personalities can give kids a good view of how not to act. Parents should be able to provide their children with a safe environment where the child feels comfortable to discuss anything with their parents.

Assuming the responsibility of raising a child is not an easy task or one to be entered into lightly. In a perfect world there should not be any “surprise,” pregnancies. I’ve long thought it is a cosmic joke that the physical act that bonds a man and a woman together is also the one that creates an offspring. Many people view an upcoming edition to a family as one of life’s greatest blessings, or so they would have us believe.

I’ve always found the prospect terrifying. Little children and the responsibility to raise them to be kind, productive members of society should not be done by unlicensed amateurs. The expense of child rearing is extensive, including higher education as suited to an offspring’s talents.

Bringing a child into the world has the effect of entering into a binding social contract where the party of the first part (parent) vows to protect, feed, clothe and educate the party of the second part (child) until they reach the age of majority.

Having more children than one can afford is ill-advised and has rightly led to smaller families in recent years. In the past family businesses, especially farming, relied on multiple offspring to thrive.

It is time to prepare for the new school year. Good luck getting your routine and your schedule ready to accept these new challenges.

Have a safe and blessed weekend.

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Readers may contact Tami Jo Nix by emailing or following @TamiJoNix on Twitter.

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