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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