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The lessons lockdown is teaching children and young people – not all learning takes place at a desk

It has been over a month since schools across the UK closed and parents and carers were given the task of educating their children at home. Whilst many parents may be thriving in their new role as teacher and their children responding well to the change from classroom to kitchen table, other families may be struggling.

The pandemic has changed so many aspects of daily life in such a short space of time and people looking after children are now being asked to do more than ever before. Parents must now juggle working from home alongside caring for and educating their children, all whilst dealing with the anxiety and stress that comes with living through a global crisis. The pressure and expectation to ‘do it all’ can be overwhelming and many carers and parents may feel as though they are not doing enough to educate their children at home. It is important for everyone to remember that children will find it difficult to learn in a stressful environment and anxious and overwhelmed parents do not make for the best of teachers. It is equally vital that parents do not put added pressure on themselves during this time and only do as much home schooling as they can without negatively impacting their own and their children’s mental health. Home should be a safe and happy space and the last thing children and their care givers need right now is to be arguing over school work

There is also something else to remember about education: not all learning takes place at a desk. Children will be learning so many valuable lessons from living through the Coronavirus pandemic. They may not be studying for six hours a day but they are still learning; the lessons they are learning now will serve them for a lifetime. For parents and carers feeling as though they have not been able to give home schooling as much attention as they would have liked, here is a list of all the lessons children are learning during lockdown that don’t come from worksheets and textbooks.

The lessons lockdown is teaching children and young people.

Gratitude – Every Thursday night the British public stand outside their front doors and clap to say thank you to the NHS and all the key workers helping our country stay afloat during this crisis. We all come together to say thank you, people are fundraising for the NHS to show their gratitude and small acts of kindness are now more freely given and more gratefully received. Learning to be grateful and give thanks to others is a lesson that will help to build a kinder and more appreciative generation. Also, with so many parts of daily life now taken away, when lockdown is lifted and some sense of normality resumes, perhaps we will all want for less, now realising how much we had all along.

Patience – Patience is a concept children can struggle with. Children, especially young children, don’t like to wait for the things they want. Children growing up now have also lived (mostly) in an on-demand culture, anything they want is just a click away, the power of the digital world has made it possible for us to have whatever we want, whenever we want. Having many of our freedoms stopped with no specific end date in sight, we are all having to expand the boundaries of our patience as all we can do is sit and wait. However, there is an end in sight and this is a good time for children to learn that, in some instances, we can’t always get what we want straight away. Lockdown is a lesson in endurance and shows that sometimes we have to go through a difficult period before we can reap the rewards – lockdown is the hard work and life getting back to normal with less risk of catching Coronavirus is the reward. 

Resilience – Children are resilient, working in the fostering sector we know this already. Young people can be incredibly adaptable and often prove to be much stronger than they are given credit for. Children living in foster care often amaze us with their resilience and ability to go through difficult times and periods of great change while remaining positive and able to achieve their full potential. Lockdown will be teaching all children how to cope with change and how to deal with challenges and adapt to a way of life they have never known before. Schools have closed, children can’t see their friends, family circumstances have changed as parents now try to work and educate at home, and all of these changes are happening under the ever present fear that someone they love is going to catch Covid19.  This pandemic will help children to discover how strong they really are and show them that it is possible to adapt to change.

Creativity – We are all spending more time indoors than ever before. This new expanse of ‘free time’ but with limited places it can be spent, means children and young people are having to get more creative with how they fill their days. Younger children may be growing their imagination thanks to more time to play undisturbed with their toys. Parents and caregivers are able to spend more time playing with their little ones, engaging them in role play games and a variety of activities. Older children and young people will be having to get creative to keep themselves entertained while their parents work at home, not always able to play and interact because of work commitments. Lockdown is also unleashing the nations creativity in its most literal sense; painting, writing or learning a new instrument are just some examples of hobbies people have taken up since normal life was put on hold. A hobby a child begins now could become a passion and joy they have for the rest of the life. 

Community spirit – At the start of the crisis it may have felt an ‘every man for himself’ mentality was adopted by the nation. Now that the initial panic has subsided, a real sense of community spirit is shining through. From delivering shopping to a vulnerable neighbour to posting a letter to an isolated elderly relative, donating to food banks and decorating windows with rainbows to share thanks and spread joy, people everywhere are trying their best to support one another. Young minds are impressionable and being surrounded by all this kindness, goodwill and support will show children the importance of helping others. It is argued that community spirit was beginning to disappear due to the busy modern lifestyle and this crisis has given us the opportunity to get a sense of togetherness back. Children and young people will be learning the true value or kindness and selflessness by bearing witness to all the good things their caregivers are doing for others during this time.

Home life skills – Lockdown is the perfect opportunity to be teaching older children and young adults valuable life skills. This is a good time to be arming young people with skills and knowledge to help them to grow into independent young adults. Learning to cook a few staple meals, helping with household chores, getting involved with gardening or assisting with any DIY projects – the home environment is full of opportunities for learning.

Career planning – This is not so much for young children, but for teenagers this pandemic may plant the seed for their further education and career ambitions. Doctors, nurses and healthcare staff are being discussed daily on the news, perhaps now will be the time certain young people realise they want to become a medical professional in the future. With the daily coronavirus press briefings, the more curious children may be drawn into researching paths that lead to a career in journalism. Others may be inspired by all the fundraising taking place and be keen to learn more about working in the charity sector. Many different careers are being showcased at the moment and this exposure may be helping to inspire the next generation of doctors, politicians and key workers. The importance of human connection – We have become a world hooked on screens, seeing a child with their own electronic device has become the norm. For years now the population has become preoccupied with smartphones and other devices and, arguably, we have forgotten the real importance of human, face to face connection. For many children, this is the first time they have been unable to spend time ‘in real life’ with their friends and loved ones. For the most part, children only have the people in their household for company. When lockdown is lifted and people can be together again, perhaps our children and teenagers will realise the importance of face to face interaction and choose time talking with family over time scrolling through social media. Lockdown will be teaching children who and what matters most in their lives and the importance of human connection.

Lockdown is a challenging time for people of all ages, it is a big change for adults and children alike. However, this pandemic has provided a unique opportunity for children to learn valuable and important life lessons. Parents and caregivers, don’t feel guilty if you didn’t manage any home schooling today, your children are already gaining a wealth of important knowledge from this experience.

Would you like to help children and young people in your local area to grow, learn and reach their full potential? We are continuing to recruit new foster carers during the Coronavirus pandemic and we would love to hear from you.

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