1 June 2020
Today, some of our children will have returned to school. For many parents and children, the day would have come with mixed emotions. Some of excitement, some of fear and anxiety. While for some parents, nothing will have changed as they have chosen to keep their children at home.
Sadly, this return to school is far from the normal that we all knew only a few months ago. Our children will be kept in ‘bubbles’ during the day, may not be with all their friends and may have a different teacher. Routines that we were all set in, and timetables of old, now long gone. For now, this is our “new normal”.
Should we as parents and educators be concerned about the wellbeing of our children? Children are incredibly resilient and adaptable. Our children must know that we adults have never experienced a pandemic before. For us too, this is all new. There is no footprint, no handbook to guide us through these stormy seas. So, what should we be telling our children?
Fear breeds fear. Children will pick up on our emotions and feed off our behaviour. It is crucial that we encourage all our children to talk openly about how they are feeling and that we adults participate in that conversation too, being as honest and as calm as we can be, modelling appropriate behaviour. Openness allows opportunities for children’s feelings to be voiced and normalised but most importantly validated.
Children thrive in calm, we can and should acknowledge that we have indeed been through a difficult time, for some more than others. However, we are back at school and although things are different, we are back and that should be celebrated! There may of course be children missing, who for one reason or another have not returned to school. Perhaps, it is these children who will need the most reassurance, that they are still very much part of their school communities and are as much part of daily activities as they can be, that connection is crucial and an important basis for reforming our class bonds.
Although it is hard to remember what life was like pre-Coronavirus, it did exist! If we scroll all the way back in our memories, we will find stored a tab marked ‘good days’ and ‘bad days’! Life living with Coronavirus is no different! Our children will return from school having had ‘good days’ and ‘bad days’ too. It is our job to remind them of this when you are greeted with tears and drama at the end of a school day.