Masks! Regardless of personal, political, scientific, medical, mandated, suggested information – regardless of our own belief systems, our own anxieties – our reality is that seeing our children and staff wearing masks is an on-going visual message that life is different. Do masks tell us that life is unsafe? Do masks tell us that we are successfully problem solving a new situation? Do masks tell us we are all now safe? What I believe is that our children are now digesting new messages, new information and having to learn how to handle a lot of different expectations.
We’ve always been aware that a child’s well-being includes so much more than intellectual growth and physical safety. Our mission statement written almost 25 years ago identifies our commitment to providing a child-centered education for all our students with emphasis on appropriate cognitive, physical, social, and emotional development. Now more than ever, as we all are experiencing an awareness of the unpredictable nature of our lives and our futures – we need to be focused on our children’s emotional safety. As conscientious parents and educators, we understand the impact of what we are doing and saying to our children. We are all in uncharted waters. There are many articles and materials that are accessible to help us. We are all doing the research. But what about in our daily routines? What are our children overhearing us discuss? What are they seeing on TV, on line, in newspapers? What are they hearing from their friends? What is our body language and tone of voice telling them?
On the CDC website for parents they say: “Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) can affect children and young people directly and indirectly. Beyond getting sick, many young people’s social, emotional, and mental well-being has been impacted by the pandemic. Trauma faced at this developmental stage can continue to affect them across their lifespan.” (https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/daily-life-coping/parental-resource-kit/index.html)
We are watching our children very closely. We are not making assumptions about behaviors. We are exposing them to options and laughter, friendship and conversation. We are identifying the changes and talking about them. Even our youngest children can easily pick up on adult frustration and fear. Our oldest children are learning new coping mechanisms. Please continue to share your concerns and suggestions. We need to see our children smiling. We need them to remember that we are taking care of the adult problems and they still have the right to be children.
“I believe the children are our future Teach them well and let them lead the way-
Show them all the beauty they possess inside – Give them a sense of pride to make it easier…” Songwriters: Linda Creed / Michael Masser – Greatest Love of All
Rita Epstein, November 2020