by Lindsay Adams
Ok, only those who caught the 1984 Vicks Formula 44 Cough Syrup commercial starring “Dr. Rick Webber” of General Hospital fame will understand this article’s title. Even so, it’s true; I am not a teacher.
Over the past 10+ years, I’ve had the pleasure to work for the St. Vrain Valley School District in Community Schools (the department that takes care of before and after school programming and childcare). After taking a few years to pursue other avenues, I recently returned to childcare last August – right in the middle of the pandemic. While I do not have a teacher’s perspective, I wanted to share a few thoughts and observations regarding my time with elementary-aged children in the past five months.
If you have children in public schools, whether in the SVVSD or elsewhere, you know that since last March, it’s been a constant mix of learning scenarios from remote to hybrid, to fully present with all sorts of modifications along the way. Parents, children, educators, and everyone associated with education have had to change on a dime, make plans, cancel plans and get creative with every aspect of all things related to school. It has been, and continues to be, exhausting for all involved.
The following observations are from my perspective only and do not reflect the opinions of anyone else. I consider being with children and families a privilege, even more so right now, during such trying times. Here are a few thoughts…
1. Children have a great capacity for change. That is not to say that change is easy, and like adults, it is easier for some than others. Generally, I have seen the children I work with accept the constant change in expectations, daily practices, social distancing, and the like with strength and courage. They have gotten used to things being different from day to day and have had to be flexible and open to what is coming next.
2. Children are imaginative. Things certainly look different in not only the classroom but the childcare setting as well. No longer are there dozens of toys everywhere waiting for children to get their hands on them. There are restrictions around which toys are safe to play with, how many children can play with a toy at a time, how close kids are to each other when they play, and so much more. Kids are very imaginative and creative, and without toys to guide them, they can often keep occupied being forced to figure out how to make their own fun.
3. Children exert control in unique ways. If there’s one thing I have observed, it is that this pandemic has us all finding little pockets of our life where we can exert control. In a time where so little is in our control right now, kids are no different. It took me a while to figure out. I noticed more and more kids trying to control small situations and even digging their heels in when, typically, that was not in their nature. I could only conclude that there is so little that they have control over right now they are seeking ways to get that back.
4. Many children are struggling right now. Even in the midst of the positive things that I have seen, the reality is that many kids are struggling, and many parents are at a loss as to how to help them. It’s only being made more difficult with the communication challenges of mask-wearing and the inability to be less than 6 feet apart. I know I am not alone in that I am working harder to make gentle eye contact with kids and to exude empathy and presence while maintaining a safe distance. It’s weird but necessary right now.
As I mentioned in the beginning, I am NOT a teacher, but as someone who has worked in an elementary school for many years, I know firsthand the ongoing, relentless commitment of teachers and administrators to ensure success, academically, socially, and emotionally for every, single child.
If you need support, resources, or just a listening ear, start with your child’s teacher. Certainly, school administrators are also there to provide ongoing support and assistance. They are experts in their field in finding what works well for every student. They are creative and flexible and have a deep desire to serve children. If you feel your child needs additional support, consider contacting the professionals at North Range Behavioral Health (https://northrange.org). There is a local counseling center right here in Carbon Valley.
There are many things that the past year has taught us: strength, resiliency, flexibility, creativity, and, hopefully, compassion. Let’s help our children to take away the good and to use it to become stronger, more resilient, more creative, and more compassionate adults as they move into adulthood.
Lindsay Adams is a wife and empty-nester mom of 3 who is “Encouraging women to live a well & happy life at each new stage”. You can find her at https://getoiling.com/LindsayAdams/page/my-page