It never ceases to amaze me the power of ‘the little things’ in creating ongoing and lasting impact for children’s self esteem, confidence and sense of ability to cope.
COVID-19 has seen the Drop & Go policy a necessity in schools and this has been a difficult adjustment for some parents and children. I for one, have thoroughly relished the opportunity to not have to wrangle the toddler out of the car seat, or to not feel so rushed on work days. But sometimes it’s hard as a parent not knowing anything about what your child is doing. Not knowing if they are coping, being included, ok without you. This is where trust comes in. Resilience only develops with trust. Trusting that we have given our children the skills, and the inner strengths they need to navigate the day. Trust that they will work through any little struggles, move through those messy emotions and bounce back a little stronger and a little wiser. We also need to trust that the teachers will let us know if there are any big problems. Trust that they will see our children for who and where they are, and meet them there.
In speaking to many teachers over the last few weeks, they are marvelling at just how settled the majority of our children are. Just how calmly and confidently they are starting their day; ready to engage, feeling proud, feeling independent. How simply carrying one’s own bag, changing their own home reader, and having no one to hide behind when someone greets you- has helped children learn to adapt their skills, develop a stronger inner voice, and become capable. This has been an opportunity for our children to feel EMPOWERED.
When our little ones enter school on their own with a quick wave or a backwards grin (so proud of themselves!) and step over that threshold not attached to a grown up - they get the sense that this is THEIR space. That they can do this. Our job is to send the message that we trust them to cope. And if they are finding it hard- we send the message that we know it feels tricky, but we also know they can do tricky things. When we leave confidently and don’t hover we send the message we trust them, and their teacher and that this is safe. If your little one is struggling with separation distress- please reach out to school and create a team approach, and seek some professional help if it’s ongoing. Whilst it’s really common it can be very difficult to navigate.
Teachers are seeing our children THRIVE. They also have the time in the morning to be more present with our children- to observe their uniqueness, to watch their play and therefore understand where to take their learning journey. However teachers are also missing the chance to tell us when our children have done something amazing or said something funny. They see parents as a vital part of the school community, and this is where the balance becomes difficult.
As restrictions ease I urge parents to allow their children the space they need. To strike a balance between maintaining a relationship with school (because education is a team effort) and encouraging your child’s autonomy and ownership of their day. I urge schools to find other ways for parents to continue to feel part of, and contribute to the school community. To ensure communication lines are open (without bombarding teachers with emails) so that parents aren't left wondering how on earth their child is doing!
No one has precedence or a rule book for the times we have faced and will continue to face. As parents, we have had to adapt in ways we never imagined. But we have done well, and so too, have our children. Now, let’s use what we have learnt to help our children be resilient and empowered students.