The last few months have been a rollercoaster for those of us with school aged children. The absence of school for many, online learning for the majority and something resembling full-time school for others has been demanding. Combine this with parents who are working from home and it’s been a very pressurised environment. Far from being snowflakes, that ever common slur for those who have a softer side, children of all ages have proven themselves to be very tough indeed.
Quite rightly, there’s been huge focus on children’s mental health and their formal education, but I think there’s merit in stepping back and taking a look at the experiences our offspring have had over recent months from a different perspective. There have been considerable negatives, but are we ignoring some significant positives our children have experienced?
Children and adults alike have been through a fascinating experience dealing with the fall out of COVID-19. Kids are living through the impact of a global impact that has not only closed schools across the world, but also cafes, museums, theme parks, swimming pools, cinemas, concert venues, theatres, sporting venues and so on. During these worrying times, our children have had to spend huge amounts of time at home under a form of house arrest. This has never happened before and shows they are not snowflakes but very hardy.
Before I go on, I have to write a caveat. I am writing this as someone fortunate enough to have a house with a garden and a family with no underlying health conditions. Every family is different and faces different stresses and strains. We’ve all had a different experience of lockdown and I must acknowledge that ours has been at the easier end of the scale to manage.
That said, if I look at my own kids and how they’ve dealt with matters over the past few months, I have been staggered at their resilience. Yes, my kids have fallen out from time to time, but I have been amazed at how well they have got on with each other. I’ve heard other parents say how they’ve been surprised how well their offspring have got on with their siblings as well. I think youngsters have had an amazing lesson in tolerance.
When the schools were closed, online learning became universal to a greater or lesser degree. Our children had to adjust to this at rapid speed, so they’ve had to be flexible and adaptable.
I think we all know COVID-19 has bought out the best and worst in people. Children generally seemed to be enthusiastic participants in the Thursday night clap for carers. Communities have pulled together in other ways with volunteers delivering food to individuals who have had to shield. Kids have witnessed this and hopefully learned a valuable lesson in community spirit, working together and loving thy neighbour.
We then come on to the various informal educational opportunities our kids have had. I’ve spent this time encouraging Helen, my eldest daughter who is 11, to do simple things such as programme and use the washing machine and dishwasher. I saw this as a great chance to teach her some basic life skills.
I’m not saying everything over the past few months has been positive or enjoyable, far from it. Since February our children have heard news report after news report about Coronavirus, most of it very worrying and causing some anxiety.
Adults and children alike have reported an impact on their sleep and weird dreams. Doctor’s, dentist’s and optician’s appointments have been missed and no matter how hard mums and dads have tried, it is impossible to replicate the school environment at home.
As a generation of children, however, I think our kids will be unique. I understand the NHS is gearing up for dealing with a surge in Post Traumatic Stress cases. I can understand COVID has caused anxiety in many people, including children.
Even so, our kids are having an amazing lesson in self-reliance, understanding, tolerance and adaptability. I think we’re raising a very interesting generation of youngsters. Our kids are receiving a superb, informal education and will develop some great ‘soft’ skills as a result of the 2020 global health pandemic. It will be interesting to see how this plays out in the years to come.
One thing is for sure, this generation have proven they are not snowflakes. They are living through something unprecedented and have coped with it incredibly well, better than many adults. I’d like to think this bodes well for the future.