Resilience. Fortitude. Kindness. Flexibility. Respect.
As we start to look back at the pandemic, in the midst of the horror, there were important lessons learned at New Morning School and in homes throughout the world.
First, last summer when parents raised concerns about their children wearing masks all day, I shared that kids are resilient and they would be able to comply. From day one, the kids had their masks on – always. This and so much else taught the kids about resilience. Masks were not the greatest thing to wear, but they were necessary. The kids put up with them without complaint. That builds resilience.
Building fortitude during the pandemic
Everything about the pandemic helped students build fortitude. It wasn’t fun sitting at individual tables at school and not being able to socialize with your peers, but it was necessary, and kids complied. It wasn’t fun when the trip to Three Cedars Farm had to be cancelled. It wasn’t fun when Thanksgiving was put on pause. But we survived.
And finally, the pandemic taught kids about disappointment and being able to handle a negative. For example, “Mom, can I go over to Susie’s and play?” And, of course, the answer had to be no, not yet.
What was learned that was positive?
“Game night with just my family can be fun.”
“There’s another way to celebrate my birthday, and It’s fun, too,” and
“It’s nice to have a weekend at home and not be rushing to sporting events.”
As we ease into whatever “normal” is, let us keep the lessons that we’ve learned.
“My child is resilient. She can handle disappointment and be okay.”
“I know my child can handle anything now.”
Kindness helps in tough situations
And most important, kindness goes a long way when there are challenges. We taught our children to be kind. I taught my staff that, everyone is doing the best that they can. It is okay to cut them (and yourself) some slack.
And finally, if we have learned anything, it is about being flexible. The rules from the experts changed from month to month. First, we can do this; then we must do that. Bend like the trees in a breeze. That is the way to stay strong.
Elaine Kennedy is head of school for New Morning School in Plymouth, MI. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.