Life for our children post Covid-19

By Ruth | May 26, 2020

My Teacher Life

We’ve all been on and continue to ride the ‘Corona-coaster’ as it’s been referred to. One day you seem to be managing to cope with it all, the next you seem to achieve nothing. You’re thankful and grateful to be healthy and well, but can’t escape also feeling isolated from friends and family, missing routine and normality. I go from feeling happy to have had extra time with my husband at home, having completed projects, to feeling guilty for feeling that way when thousands of people have died and suffered so much. I pine for normality (as we used to know it) to return, but also sit here anxiously worrying about keeping safe. 

As a mum and a teacher I am immensely proud of all the children around the world who have been through lockdown. Their little worlds were turned upside down in one fast swoop and all that they knew changed.  I hope, for the majority of children, they will look back and remember the extra days spent playing with their parents, the sunny weather and the rainbows. In reality, I know for so many children this lockdown will have been a traumatic time including bereavement, abuse and loss. 

Everyone’s experience and every child’s experience of lockdown will have been so different and this is something that as school leaders we need to try to prepare for, but I don’t think we will understand the true extent of lockdown for a while to come yet. 

I was thinking of how things will change for our little one’s post Covid-19. When will they, if ever, return to the lives they knew before? When will they first cuddle their grandparents again? When will they attend a baby group again? 

My little boy has just turned 7 months and I’m glad he is so young as he won’t remember this. He is such a happy, laid-back and well-behaved baby (it always used to make me laugh in the early days when people would ask me if he was a good baby as I knew no different!) However, having spoken to other mummies too, I do feel that on days when we’re riding the low part of the ‘Corona-coaster’ that he feels it too. He has been more clingy and not settling to sleep as well. From such a young age babies pick up on the environment around them – as do children. 

Prior to lockdown, he would happily go to anyone for a cuddle and he was socially interacting with other babies regularly. I hope that because he is so young, that he will adjust to the new life and quickly be at ease doing these things again. For older children however, who have a bigger understanding of what is going on, the psychological affects post Covid-19 will inevitably remain for quite a while. 

I look at the photos of schools being prepped to open on June 1st and my heart sinks. It could not be more far removed from what school should be. School for many children is their safe place, their routine. It’s a happy environment, full of smiles, caring people and friends. They cannot begin to imagine how school will be different when they return and no matter how much we support them, the reality will be so alien to them. No doubt, every teacher across the country will do their absolute best to make the most of a strange situation for their children. However, everything will be so different. 

There will be staggered drop off and collection times, staggered breaks and lunch times, the normal curriculum will not be on offer to children and there will be no breakfast, lunch time or after school clubs. Most resources will be removed from the classroom and there will be no sharing of resources. We teach children to share and now they’re going to be in an environment where they can’t share. They won’t be in their usual class. They may have some friends around them, but some will be kept at home and some will have to sit in other rooms to ensure social distancing (as much as you can in a primary school!). 

Staying safe and keeping healthy are, of course, the most important things and yes, children absolutely need their education, but to return to this alien environment for just 6 weeks before the summer holidays will undoubtedly have an emotional effect on many. Once they get used to this ‘new normality’ there will once again be change as the summer holidays commence. 

Whether or not the government goes ahead with the phased re-opening of schools and whether or not that is the right thing to do, the important thing to remember is that we need to do whatever we can to protect and support our children as they will have all been affected in some way either psychologically, socially, emotionally or physically. 

One day we will meet together again to play sports, to enjoy clubs, to attend family celebrations and to learn the way we should in an inclusive classroom. Until then, I think no matter what age our children and whether we are supporting our children as a teacher or a parent, we need to be conscious of easing our own anxiety first. It will be important to have conversations with our children promptly and openly, being understanding of their concerns and providing fact based information.

There is a long way to go on this journey, but hopefully our children will come out of it smiling. 

“After every storm, there is a rainbow, no matter how long it takes to show up.” – Grace V