Children “Steppin it up” – what we’ve learnt from COVID!

Sometimes it takes an upheaval to make you realise that there is a better way to do things. If you google ‘lessons learnt from COVID’ you’ll find information outlining the way in which families, organisations and industries have made changes to the way they do things because of what was shown to be effective during the COVID period of lockdown, restrictions and change.

I recall a conversation with a friend about 9 months ago, during Remote Learning. She talked about how difficult it had been trying to work from home while supervising her children’s learning. Quite insightfully, she realised that she had raised her children in an era of planned play dates, packed schedules and screen time. She found that her children struggled to work independently, lacking initiative and self-help skills. My friend realised that for too long she had been available at her children’s every ‘beck and call’, meeting all their needs immediately.

She knew she needed to make a change and set about transforming the household. The children were required to ‘step it up’. They became problem solvers, learning not to interrupt their mother if the red card was posted outside her makeshift home office door! I still clearly recall my friend expressing her surprise that her children had adapted so quickly to the independence and responsibility enforced upon them. In the words of my friend, ‘COVID should have come sooner’.

As a College, COVID has taught us a number of things also (and not only how to ‘teach’ remotely with new technologies)! Restrictions placed upon us demanded that we do things differently. Pick-up and Drop-off had to be done differently given that parents couldn’t come on campus or leave their cars.

Now that restrictions are easing, we have contemplated whether a return to everything ‘pre-Covid’ is really best practice. We’ve realised that some of the new routines enforced upon us have been of great benefit to our students, instilling in them levels of responsibility, organisation, problem-solving and resilience that we have not witnessed in the past.

Here’s what we’ve noticed during the changes brought about by COVID.

  1. Children thrive on walking to class on their own and love the responsibility and independence this brings
    All children want to see themselves as confident and responsible and they need to experience these traits for their ongoing self-esteem. During COVID, our students (even those with diagnosed anxiety) have demonstrated that they are highly capable of getting themselves from ‘A to B’ within the safe environment of the College grounds.
  1. Children can organise themselves and their own belongings when expectations are clear
    Even our youngest Junior School children have shown success at following established routines and being organised, without help and direction from parents at classrooms in the morning. Lunch boxes, blue folders, drink bottles and Home Readers! Our kids know their morning routine in regards to these things and have benefitted from the success of managing these expectations on their own without help or reminders.
  1. Children have become better problem solvers
    Kids can get very used to bringing problems to their parents to solve. COVID has forced children to take problems or concerns to their class teachers on their own. Being confident and asking for help when required is vitally important for children to learn. Please continue to encourage your child to be a problem solver. When your child brings a problem to you, ask them, ‘Is this something you can handle on your own?’ or ‘What do you think I should do to help solve the problem?’ When kids develop personal responsibility and problem-solving skills, it gives them their best chance of avoiding many of the pitfalls of life and makes them more resilient and better able to deal with inevitable problems that arise.
  1. Separating from parents sooner in the morning, and having some play time enables a more settled and smoother start to the day.
    Previously, staff have had to deal with issues of separation anxiety at the morning bell, which can have a significant impact upon how a class starts their day. Also, having some active play in the morning and an opportunity to connect with their peers has helped set children up for a great day of learning.

If given an opportunity and a ‘crutch’, our children will regress to old routines very quickly, becoming low risk-takers, reliant on parents.

I strongly encourage you to be like my friend. Capitalise on the gains made during COVID. Continue these new routines and practices in order to help your child be the confident, independent and resilient child I know you desire them to be!

While it can be very hard to ‘step back’ as a parent, doing so allows your child to ‘step up’. You’ll both reap the benefits in the long run.

Mrs Vicki Gunning / Head of Junior School