Without question, the last few weeks have been extremely difficult for all of us, especially our children. They may be feeling confused, frustrated and stressed.
But we also recognize the positives in a time like this. Families are closer than ever. Individuals are resetting their priorities. Personal connections have never been more cherished. And most importantly, our children are gaining skills that will prove invaluable throughout their lives.
“Any time young children face adversity, they can also encounter tremendous growth. With the right guidance, a crisis like this can become an incredible catalyst for their success as learners and as individuals.”Sarah Johnston, Head of School
Even in virtual classes, Old Trail teachers have found that the genuine relationships they share with children enable them to inspire students and foster their growth. Old Trail strives to instill the skills children need to take them farther in their lives. As parents, we try to find a few small moments each day to nurture the same growth at home.
The years from preschool through middle school are the most important for a child’s development. In the current climate, our children are presented with opportunities to overcome adversity, and to do so organically, during the most impactful time of their life. They’ve had many of their favorite aspects of their childhood taken away from them: friends, sports, clubs, hobbies and more.
Parents can help their child recognize their own stress and emotions and then offer suggestions for coping: exercise, nature hikes, FaceTime calls with friends, etc. Eventually, they should be able to manage their feelings on their own.
Resilience yields confidence, and when children have confidence, they form a healthy appetite for and positive approach to ever-increasing challenge.
Old Trail students have realized the importance of staying positive, remaining connected to each other and working together.
Last week, several Middle School students held a virtual sandwich-making contest at lunch; they filmed themselves making their favorite classic or original sandwiches, some with very creative combinations. It was such a hit, they’re currently compiling a virtual sandwich cookbook.
In many ways, distance learning breeds more independence in children, even though they’re at home all day. They went from their normal routine, where desks, books, computers, etc. were arranged for them, to a situation in which they have to take ownership and be accountable for their learning. Children of all ages are recognizing their role in the family and how they can help during a difficult time.
As parents, we tend to clear obstacles for our children. We know that many parents working from home are struggling with the constant juggle of life in quarantine. But in some ways, allowing your child to find his or her own way as a distance learner can actually propel your child’s development.
One Old Trail student with a passion for singing took it upon herself to spread some joy and share her talent with the community. In the last few weeks, she has sent videos of herself performing for everyone from our youngest students to the Head of School. She’s even taking requests!
Being able to adapt to change and new environments is one of the most important qualities of leaders in an increasingly global society. There’s plenty of proof in the swift reactions of leading brands and corporations over the past few weeks. The more our children can be agile now, the better they will be able to excel in a world that demands flexibility.
Even outside of the “school” day, parents can encourage their child to find new ways to entertain themselves by inventing a game, creating a home workout or acquiring an art skill.
A graduating eighth grader started a GoFundMe to raise $3,000 for a local restaurant to make meals for healthcare workers at Akron General Children’s Hospital. He personally delivered the food to Akron Children’s last week. His initiative helped a small business and those on the frontlines.
It Starts With Reflection
So how do you nurture these skills in your own child?
Reflection is the best way to grow, evolve and develop. It allows your child to think through challenges, navigate their emotions and establish who they are. In fact, this social-emotional dynamic is what many children are missing right now, especially in asynchronous distance learning programs.
Parents can nurture growth by asking questions and encouraging your child to express their emotions and share their ideas. By reflecting on his or her day, your child will recognize the importance of their everyday experiences and the approach they can take to tomorrow’s challenges. This is real growth, and its value at this time in a child’s life cannot be measured.
During the past several weeks, Old Trail has been inspired by the commitment of educators, the dedication of parents and the resilience of children everywhere.
If you’d like to learn more about Old Trail or would like information about additional learning resources, parents should contact Susan Newman, director of enrollment management at firstname.lastname@example.org.