GONZALEZ, FIRST THINGS FIRST
This year, kindergarten teacher Christina Walker noticed a difference in her young students right away.
Many of them were missing basic social-emotional skills for kindergarten readiness, such as knowing how to cope with challenges.
“They’ll just break down and start crying, instead of asking for help or doing it a different way,” said Walker, who teaches at Winters Well Elementary School in Tonopah, a community on the western edge of Maricopa County. “I have some that are crying because they don’t get it right, or they break down, frustrated because it’s too hard for them. It’s taking us longer to get to where they need to be.”
When school starts, it’s not surprising that some of the children miss their parents. Walker said separation anxiety is impacting the classroom more and more.
“We get more of those now,” Walker said. “At the beginning of this year, so many were crying for their mom and dad. We can’t teach or do anything with that because they shut down. You have to wait them out.”
The children entering kindergarten and preschool this year are sometimes referred to as COVID babies. Many of these young children spent their early years in isolation at home with their families, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. During that time, well-child visits were missed and with that, sensory and developmental screenings to identify potential delays were also often missed.
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