How do you get a kindergartener to like school during a pandemic?

Our kindergartener, Nayvie, sulks over breakfast on a school day.

It’s 7:20 a.m. on a Thursday, and our kindergartener, Nayvie, won’t get out of bed.

“Your turn,” my visibly frustrated wife, Nicki, tells me after 10 minutes of negotiating with the most stubborn of our three little girls.

I start in with the bribes: a milkshake, a trip to the candy store, a pony.

She doesn’t flinch, insisting for the umpteenth time that she’s not going.

Then, some movement. She gets out of bed! She walks through the hallway … and crawls right into her sister’s bed.

Nice.

An irregular start to the school year during a global pandemic has made getting our 5-year-old off to school the day’s most challenging task.

Like some other Idaho school districts, ours pushed the first full week of in-person learning back two weeks, compliments of COVID-19. Our three daughters went one day their first week and two days their second week.

Last week marked her first full week back — or it was supposed to, anyway.

Nayvie’s still adjusting to an earlier bedtime, and the fact that her teachers wear masks hasn’t helped.

We also sold our home of five years and moved into a rental last week.

And we’re expecting a baby in December.

Between visits to the gynecologist, moving all our stuff and house shopping in a seller’s market, Nayvie can’t tell a Saturday from a Tuesday.

Luckily for her, there was no school Monday. And a rowdy windstorm knocked out power across our school district Monday night, prompting local school closures Tuesday. We negotiated and bribed Wednesday, but she’d grown smarter — and more stubborn — by Thursday. (Our district is on a four-day school week, so Fridays are a non-issue.)

We couldn’t get ourselves to force her Thursday, so she didn’t go.

With Nicki and I both working from home, we did what we thought to be the best thing for her: make it the most boring day of her life.

Around noon, we had a brief standoff:

  • Her: I want to watch a movie.
  • Me: TV’s not working right now.
  • Her: I want to play on the computer.
  • Me: Internet’s down.
  • Her: I want to go to the park.
  • Me: You can go outside with the dog.

Hopefully she learned something. I don’t know how many times we heard her say “I’m bored” on Thursday.

After school, our third grader, Parlie, floated an idea to help the situation. “We need to wake her up at 6 a.m. and let her lay in bed for an hour, since she likes it so much.”

At this point, we may try anything.

We’re open to other suggestions. Email me at [email protected] if you can relate.

Devin Bodkin

About Devin Bodkin

Reporter Devin Bodkin covers education issues in East Idaho. He is a former high school English teacher who specializes in stories about charter schools and educating students who live in poverty. He is a 2019 Solutions Journalism Network fellow and the Idaho Press Club's 2019 print reporter of the year. Follow Devin on Twitter @dsbodkin. He can be reached by email at [email protected].

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