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One simple reason why snack time has become the best time of the day…

October 9, 2020 | Nathan Johnson

Back in July, when it was announced that schools were considering reopening this fall for in-person learning, there was a world-wide onslaught of of conversation about how ludicrous and unimaginable it was going to be to have to attend to young children wearing masks at school.

Memes, gifs, tweets and posts about kids refusing masks, losing masks, throwing, eating, and playing with masks, nefarious underground mask-trading rings…

It seemed to be an accepted foregone conclusion that little ones would not be able to handle the stress.

Then along comes the Rivers Class.

No mask mix-ups or mayhem. No mask disasters or drama. Just an occasional reminder to “Nose check!” and the children quickly, and without really thinking twice, use their pincher fingers to pull their little masks back up over their tiny noses and they keep on with their day. 

It truly has been a non-issue.

You know when the drama comes? In the best way? When snack time comes. We sit socially distanced, and they take them off, and they get to …

see each other’s faces!

Ohhhh, the smiles and the giggles. They peer at each-other in delight and curiosity. They experience the once-common connection of face-to-face contact with a friend and classmate.

There is always a child or two that each child cannot see, as we have barriers up between children at the same table, but each child can see at least two other friends, and the energy in the room is so sweet … and surprisingly moving.

We are doing so much to be so careful, and for good reason. But for these 6-8 minutes, it’s amazing to look at a friend you have come to know quite well, and rediscover their smile.

Snack time is also a time of great independence. In a previous blog you saw children getting their own backpacks, opening their own snacks, and hanging up their own masks, but it is the clean up routine that is our most elaborate and challenging of the day…






These very same pictures are posted on a chart at 3-year-old eye level so they can check the routine without asking a grownup. The children are getting better at navigating it independently every day! 

Masks come off ever so briefly, and then right back on again. We are proud of the new ways we are sharing warmth and happiness without showing most of our faces, but it certainly is a sweet reprieve in the middle of our day to take them off and let our faces shine!


Nathan Johnson

Early Childhood & Lower School Visual Art Teacher

Nathan Johnson graduated in 2004 from Lenoir-Rhyne University with a Bachelor of Arts in Visual Arts (focusing on Illustration, Art History, and Puppetry), Theatre, and Elementary Education, followed by further time in Europe studying Art, and in Nova Scotia working with adults with developmental differences.

Happily back at his Alma mater (MSS class of 1995) Nathan has passionately committed his career to preserving the dignity and wonder of childhood. As children are more and more burdened with technology and privilege, he believes that in order for children to learn and grow, they must be given freedom within structure, choices with guidance, allowed to play, struggle, get dirty, and above all, to be taught that they are a beloved child of God.

When not in the classroom, Nathan can be found kayaking, camping, hosting a game night, wandering around New York City, making friends with strangers, and spending time with his 11 nieces and nephews.

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