Auckland, New Zealand
DEEPENING CONNECTION THROUGH COVID LEVEL FOUR LOCKDOWN
(click on the image for the original story)
Julie Killick, June 2020
What follows is the teachers reflections during Covid_19 and some of the parents responses to the sharing of these reflections.
These are reflections that are about sharing vulnerability and deepening connections. As Julie states “[this communication] with families has added another layer of richness and connection. Isn’t it ironic that isolation and separation has actually helped bring us closer”.
Clare’s Rāhui - a reflection on the first week.
Wow, it has been a strange first week. As teachers, we were still at Kindy until Wednesday afternoon, so on Wednesday evening I felt a little on the back foot in terms of processing personally what being in rāhui with my family, in our house, for 4 weeks, would actually mean!!! Even with all the talk of imminent lock downs I had naively assumed that schools and kindy would probably stay open until the half term holidays at least. I hadn’t battled supermarket queues or stock piled rolls of toilet paper. I knew supermarkets were staying open and figured we had some extra cans of food in the cupboards, so even on a practical level I hadn’t made time to give it much thought.
As a teaching team, we were thinking about how we could maintain strong connections and stay in relationship with the tāmariki and their Whānau over the rāhui period. For our newest children, who had only just started at Kindy, it felt really important to keep building on the relationships we had just started to form. We spent much of the Tuesday and Wednesday, before rāhui started, creating videos that could be posted on storypark and youtube. We hoped these would offer some additional reassurance and familiarity, in what felt like uncertain times.
In my house, Thursday and Friday of the first week were days of negotiation and navigation. Attempting to navigate different technologies and educational platforms, trying to support my boys in working out their online school schedule and prompt them to remember tutorials they needed attend via google meetings. Trying to work out how to upload files to youtube and negotiating with my husband for support around that. Negotiating how much non-educational screen time was appropriate with my children and physically negotiating how we all could be together within our home space and how it might be possible to get any of my own work done!
This week the boys are on school holidays, so at least the pressure of them missing online tutorials has been lifted! We have been attempting to settle into a bit of a ritual or routine. In times of uncertainty routine can be helpful for us all, and for my youngest son (who has Asperger’s syndrome) routine is particularly important in supporting him to feel a sense of familiarity, safety and control. In Nathan Wallis’ talk the other night, he mentioned the importance of predicable routines in helping children to manage themselves emotionally. I was also reminded how children can temporarily regress developmentally during times of change or if they feel things around them are a bit shaky. As adults we often drop into our emotional brain when we feel pressured or stressed and as adults we actually have fully developed logical brains we can call on! (My logical brain often goes AWOL when I’m feeling stressed out!) I also find ritual comforting. I enjoy having some landmarks in the day that I can use to orient myself, particularly if I begin to feel anxious or uncertain. I find walking and exercise helpful. We are fortunate enough to have a school nearby which is fully fenced, so we have been walking over there in the morning to exercise our two big black dogs. As it is fenced we can let the dogs off their leads for a run and know that there is no danger of them chasing a farm dog on the back of a ute up the road!
We have let the boys be on their devices whilst I try and do some work in the mornings. I watched a webinar the other morning with Pennie Brownlee, she is in her 70’s now and is a leading voice in ECE, writing about the sacred urge to play and respectful child lead teaching. She talked about the value that full attention gives to our relationships. She suggested an exercise of picking up a small object, it could be anything close by, and then really studying it. Feeling it’s weight, size, edges, texture, looking at it, really studying it closely and then seeing and feeling into how your relationship with this object, in such a short time, has changed. In my working life I feel really strongly about how important it is for children to feel seen, really seen and yet in listening to Pennie I began to feel a sense of disquiet in my heart about how I much true undivided attention I have actually been giving my own children. Everything I am reading and hearing at the moment all points to slowing down, prioritising and valuing moments with our children, not in making sure they have done their homework but in actively listening and being with them.
Usually life is so busy, juggling work, teaching yoga, movement therapy, transporting children to and from activities. Suddenly the time spent travelling in the car has been freed up. However even with this extra time saved, how much full attention are we giving each other? If my relationship and sense of connection with a random object can deepen in 30 secs just by giving it attention, it is important for me to notice and acknowledge what I chose to give my full attention to. I like to stay busy and can tend to get a bit preoccupied with work related things - like organising yoga via zoom to honour my teaching commitments and noticing my need to feel as if I am being useful, and to fight the ‘your not good enough’ voice in my head - Noticing these things is a start in creating change, right? In this time of everyone being in the house together, I am finding moments of great joy and also moments which are more challenging…moments of what I am trying to view as fodder for self reflection!… or opportunities to practice boundaries and clear and kind communication. When we all live together, we are going to (figuratively speaking) find our edges knocking against each other. Let’s hope we come out more rounded and polished at the end of it! I know my emotions are transient if I don’t attach story to them, so I am attempting to breath deeply into my belly (which -fingers crossed- WILL get smaller in the next 3 weeks!), feel the ground under me and know my emotions will pass. Sounds great in theory, but it is certainly a practice for me rather than a perfect!!!
So, I acknowledge that I need to work whilst somehow not fobbing off my children by half listening and or constantly saying I will be with them in a minute. In an attempt to find some balance we have periods of ‘quality time’, playing silly games, farkle and quirkle are favourites. I have managed one game of monopoly and will try anything in my power to avoid doing that again! Lol! - my eldest son is a total shark, although if I ever have any money I will be going to him for investment advice. I have been taking a break around 4 to go for a walk in the afternoon with either both or one of my boys. This is an hour of walking , talking and just being with each other and I am valuing this time so much. I love that I have been around to support my youngest with some baking and we are going to attempt a bike ride with the dogs nearby soon. It is certainly an adjustment to the new norm and I am sure there are more joys and challenges ahead. Being the only female in a male household is interesting, especially now they are all bigger than me and we are all here at once ( this hardly ever happens usually). I miss seeing Jo and Julie everyday (although we do message daily) and I miss playing and learning with the children, but I like not having to get up at 5am and have a new appreciation for storypark.
Well, that’s some thoughts and reflections about this first week. I think of you all often and hope you are doing ok.
Sending you lots of love,
Feedback on Storypark following Clare's reflection:
Anita Hedges (Jono)
Such great observations and food for thought Clare. We miss you guys too! It has been really great to spend more time with the children.
Sidonia Greenbank (Jack )
Beautiful words, thanks for sharing Clare. This time is certainly teaching me to "be and stay in the moment" with my boys, as we are asked to slow down and focus on what's important and what's right in front of us. It's still easy enough to get distracted following some kinds of social media and my goal for next week is to do less of that and really "see and hear" my boys, similar to what you are pointing out. We think of you amazing kindy teaches a lot and you all often come up in conversations with Jack. All the best to everyone. Much love from our male dominant household too :) x
Ellie Sorensen (Otis)
Thank you so much for sharing Clare. Xx
Jess Hing (Freyja )
Hi Clare, thank you for sharing your very insightful reflections on your first week - which I have now read many times over to help me process some of the adjustment going on in my household too! I am sure a lot of what you said resonates with many of us. I for one am so grateful of all the continued content that all the teachers have been posting on storypark even during the school holidays to help maintain the relationships built - as you mentioned, with Freyja only recently settling into kindy life, really only the week before the rahui, I would be lying if I said I wasn’t worried that she might lose some connection over the break. But she asks everyday “I wonder what Julie/Clare/Jo are doing today” so it’s great that we can connect. I too am learning to just be more present in the moment with my family and know that that is enough right now. It was lovely to learn a little bit more about you and your lovely family too and hearing some honest insights into family life. It also reminds us that you are regular human beings too and not just the super hero kindy teachers that we all know and love! Hope the second week of the rahui finds you settling a bit more into a ritual xx
Thank you so much for your thoughtful and kind feedback. Jess, your post caught me by surprise last night and your words were greatly appreciated. Your words felt nourishing. Thank you. x
Jess Hing (Freyja )
You’re welcome Clare:) guess we could all do with a little reminder now and then to stay grounded and make the most of the situation during this time. Glad I could return the favour. have a great week x
Julie Schooler (Eloise) a month ago
Thanks for your thoughts. It is good to read others' perceptions. I have a lot of thoughts swirling around but finding it very difficult to write at the moment. As that is what I do for income, that is upsetting but spending time with my kids and being creative in other ways (I am doing a daily video instead) has helped.
Joanne’s Reflection on Week 1 of Rahui.
Where do I start?
Here goes. Getting our kids and our family adjusted to this Covid-19 Rahui has been a mixture of success, special moments to treasure but honestly it has been hard going most of the time, mentally as well as emotionally.
Our kids have had meltdowns, arguments, tears and as parents we have had them too. Alex and I have had a many disagreements and arguments (and me tears) over the need to keep kids busy with their school work or just let them have free play, should we set routines and reward system and how much time is too much screen time. With everything now being online… the kids school work, keeping in touch with our friends and family, Maya’s dance classes, the children’s Scout’s programme, my gym class, Alex’s project, Maya searching online for craft ideas and baking, Lukas looking at YouTube on how to make his woodwork projects, Spotify and the list goes on. Lukas and Maya did some school work last week but this week we have ditched the school work because it is officially the holidays for them as well as their teachers. To keep everyone sane as a family, we did what we do best and what we felt was right for all of us, which is getting the children involved around the house, with projects that they can help us with and be in our happy place. Alex and Lukas have been building the deck and working on Lukas’ woodwork projects. Maya and I have been working on the fish pond, baking and cooking and crafting and reorganising the pantry. In between all of that, we have gone for bike rides around where we live. We also have Viv who lives in our minor dwelling who is in our family bubble and honestly, she is God send. Viv is like a grandmother to our kids, our marriage councillor, our devoted advisor… a calm presence for off of us… our extended family.
We are tying to find this balance, and making this new norm work for us as a family and connecting with one another on a whole different level. The Rāhui has forced us to slow down, to adjust to this new dynamic at home and as parents to not fret about the little things but really spend time with them doing things that they enjoy. Lukas is on a making wooden weapons mission and we say ‘yes’ to his ideas. Maya has gone on YouTube to hunt for craft ideas and we say ‘yes’ to that as well. A shopping trip took me 3 hours yesterday at our local New World but that is the new norm because every other family is doing that too. I just did a bigger shop for two weeks instead of one.
I have learnt to celebrate the successes as well as failure because they are teaching / learning opportunities and help me to pause and think and evaluate. When I get angry or frustrated or anxious, I let myself have a cry because it is okay. My husband and I have shared our fears, try not to dwell too much on the unknown and adopt the attitude of ‘we shall deal with it when we get there’. Our kids only hear what we tell them because we don’t have cable TV. It is a fine line between keeping them safe and giving them enough information about what is going on right now.
We looks for special moments we enjoy with one another. My son and I are Star Wars fans, so we have a special date after dinner to watch the TV series of Mandalorian. So far we are on Episode 3. Maya and I have a baking or crafting session. She chooses a recipe or a craft idea and we try it out together. Sometimes, we have to substitute ingredients because we may not have them all at home. Alex and I are still team tagging, but just team tagging in at home. We are also slowing down in the sense that we are not rushing the kids from one thing to the other. I feel personally, Alex and I have had more time to talk to one another. Alex is making bread and sourdough from the culture we got from a lovely lady in our community. We live in a great community here and feel so grateful.
One of the many special moments happened on April 1, April Fool’s Day. My children collaborated on pranks. I had my phone and shoes stuck with double sided tape, spider pictures drawn on toilet paper, squirting water on me while pretending to sneeze all over me, and one of the best pranks was inserting mayonnaise with a syringe into my toothpaste and the both of them watching the change in my facial expression when I went to brush my teeth with mayo instead of tooth paste on it. They were both rolling on the floor laughing… my husband was in on it too by the way. Bahahahhaha… the things my crazy children come up with (husband included). Don’t worry, I said to myself, I shall get them back!
I am writing this to clear my head as well as to share with you my personal challenges during this time. It certainly hasn’t been easy. I find great comfort in writing my thoughts down and hope that by sharing it with you, you will find great comfort too.
Signing off for now and hope you are all well and safe in your family bubble. Arohanui to all of you and keep in touch. Xoxo Jo.
Written by Jo on 3 April 2020, Friday at 12.30pm.
Feedback on Storypark following Jo's reflection:
Thank you Jo ..wonderful writing. Keep up your amazing spirit and positivity. You, like our Cyrus and Sidonia, are adapting your lives so well to this completely new way of living. It is unique and precious. Embrace it. Granny Marie.
So good to see you reconnecting with family at this time - that’s the greatest gift we have been given during this Rahui!
Thank you for your heartfelt diary and for your openness. It's so humbling to read that we all face very similar challenges and are adjusting to something so new that it's a very interesting time to find new ways of being. Lots of love to you and your family!
Always good to hear how others cope with new situation in this period of time. I was struggling to balance with myself and other family members because there is no “social” space between us. Thanks for sharing your story. It helps me to look back on myself and stay positive!
Thanks for the vulnerable post. I think the kids are learning - just different stuff to what they would be doing at school or kindy. They learned how to tie their shoelaces the other day and also what the biggest and smallest countries in the world are (Russia and Vatican City if you are wondering).
What follows is 3 of Julie’s diary contributions during the period of lockdown.
Part One (click on the image for the original story):
Feedback on Storypark following Julie's first reflection:
Part Two (click on the image for the orignal story):
Feedback on Storypark following Julie's reflection:
Part Three (click on the image for the original story):
Feedback on Storypark following Julie's reflection:
Back to COVID-19: Reflections and insights from teachers across the world