Q: School is starting soon and I’m really worried for my 5-year-old daughter. I’m just not
comfortable sending her, unvaccinated, to a new school. Let’s be real, we know kindergarteners
are not going to keep their masks on. But she’s bored at home. I know she needs more than a
weekly playdate pod. She missed her preschool friends from the “before times.” School feels
like a germ factory to me! On the other hand, one more year of homeschooling might just push
me over the edge. Help!

A: Fear is common for parents of younger unvaccinated children. And many moms, and dads,
were hoping this fall would bring the tail end of Covid isolation. If you are weighing your pros
and cons of yet another year of homeschooling, do your research; talk to your pediatrician and
look to experts in child development for opinions. Also, it sounds like you’re ready for a break.
That’s important to consider as well. Is your daughter thriving? Moodiness, irritability,
aggression, and regression to earlier developmental issues can all be signs a child is not thriving.
Structured school environments help with the development of social skills, such as cooperation,
following instructions, handling personal space, sharing and manners. Social and intellectual
stimulation help with prefrontal cortex development, the part of the brain responsible for higher
level thinking and planning. Early childhood specialist Jessica Payne adds, “Kids this age
already have very little independence, and almost every decision is made for them, especially
during these times. When they go to school, they gain some independence, along with student to
student and student to teacher interactions that contribute to a healthy mind.” Get information,
weigh your options, and be sure to get support whatever you decide.