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My kindergartner is really struggling with remote learning. She does fine with the offline activities, but she fights me every time we have to log on for live lessons (which is multiple times a day). There’s screaming, crying, so much yelling. I’m worried this is going to affect her feelings about school for years to come. Plus, I’m trying to work at the same time and it’s just not possible to do both. I’m thinking about pulling her from kindergarten, enrolling in a local preschool (in-person), and starting over with kindergarten next year. I’m leaning toward that option, but what would you advise?
A photo of Whitney.

Whitney Henderson

Whitney Henderson is EdNavigator's Chief Program Officer. She brings more than a decade of experience as an award-winning teacher, school leader, and instructional expert.

First of all, this is a really hard and personal decision, and I empathize with the position you’re in. Here’s the short answer: You should do what feels right for your child, will give you maximum peace of mind in a tough time, and will allow you to get your work done. If putting your daughter in a preschool setting where she can receive more individualized and in-person attention frees you up to do your job, then that seems like a win-win. You’re also right to note that these foundational years are very important for your daughter; they will help shape her beliefs about her abilities and the kind of learner she is down the line, and while this year isn’t going to make or break her entire school career, it’s also not a total throwaway.

That said, there’s a longer and more complex answer here, too. Before you make a final decision, I’d recommend getting to the root of your daughter’s distress, if you can. Try asking her directly why she doesn’t enjoy the online learning. Is it about the activities themselves? Her comfort with the technology? Feeling shy with her classmates? Finally, is the teacher familiar to her? Have they engaged in a smaller, more private setting before? Ever met in person? Many young students have a fear of connecting with strangers, so it may be helpful to set up some virtual one-on-one time so that she and her teacher can build a trusting relationship, even if they can’t meet face-to-face.

Another thing to consider is that there are some district policy issues that might affect this decision. In many states, kindergarten isn’t mandatory, which means that if you choose to opt out of it, you may be required to enroll your daughter in first grade next fall, rather than kindergarten. This largely depends on your child’s birthdate and your district’s age cutoff for kindergarten enrollment. While some districts may be flexible on this in light of COVID-19, others may not—and so far, it looks like many are undecided as they wait to see how enrollment plays out. (And maybe that’s fine with you; your daughter may be ready to jump ahead to first grade after an extra year in a high-quality preschool where she is having a “kindergarten-like” experience. But if kindergarten itself is a priority, this is something to bear in mind.) If you live in a state where kindergarten is mandatory, on the other hand, you’ll want to make sure you’re not in violation of your state’s minimum attendance requirements, which kick in at a certain age, if you keep your child out for another year.

Ultimately, the most important thing is that your daughter has an engaging and productive school year—as much as that’s possible under the current circumstances. Whether it’s kindergarten or preschool matters less than whether it instills a strong learning foundation for her. If, after considering these questions, it seems that an in-person preschool setting makes the most sense for her (and you!) than virtual kindergarten, then I wholeheartedly support that choice.

“Ultimately, the most important thing is that your daughter has an engaging and productive school year—as much as that’s possible under the current circumstances.”

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