It’s good to be back.
This week we welcomed our Prep, Kindergarten, Years 1 and 12 students back to school after 16 weeks away from school. It has been such a joy to hear the noise of student voices and activity again. We have also had all our teaching staff return onsite and either running face to face lessons or online lessons. Next week we welcome back Years 2 to Year 11.
I think the most common description of how people feel is nervous excitement.
A great deal of planning and preparation has been underway to help maintain the health and safety of our community, assessing classrooms and offices for ventilation, establishing new protocols (eg masks and carpark pickup) and ensuring our staff are ready for work at school. I would like to thank and acknowledge the work of Mrs Leanne Allchin (School Compliance Officer) and her team in leading this preparatory work to meet Public Health Orders and Health Guidelines.
We hold the firm view that we are in partnership with families, and I want to thank you also for your support from home, noting the challenges of guiding your children in their learning. I would also ask that as we return to school, that the positive partnership continues as we adjust to new (and pre-existing) routines to help maintain the health and safety of our community.
Prior to the return of students, staff have spent time at school adjusting to a change in their routines. It has been a common comment that at the end of their first week back, they feel the tiredness of this change. I fully expect this to be the experience for many of our students.
I believe that students will find the return to school motivating, they will have the benefit of connection with their social group and the routines of the school day. We also should be aware that it is understandable for a sense of nervousness in our children and in ourselves. Can I encourage you utilise positive wellbeing resources should you feel nervous, so you can provide a good emotional foundation for your child?
Children will benefit from predictability (particularly during a time of such uncertainty). Thus, routines and communication about what is happening will be beneficial for your son or daughter. Visual prompts and practice run-throughs of before school routines can help, like packing lunch boxes and finding uniform items (especially school hats!).
Conversations while doing such activities can arise naturally, which gives you the opportunity to acknowledge concerns and also build empathy for others. It is likely your son or daughter will hear comments from others about the response to COVID-19 that will be different from those discussed at home. Understanding that others have had different experiences and perspectives will help your child build their sense of belonging at school.
Also expect some behaviour changes after school finishes for the day. The following image captures the school day experience for many students, especially young ones.
To defuse the risk of restraint collapse, having some form of enjoyable sensory activity between school and home can provide the opportunity for students (and us) to regulate our feelings after a busy day. Such activities could include parking a bit away from school and walking from the pickup point back to your car, or perhaps a sing along in the car with favourite songs or stopping at a playground on the way home. Dr Adam Fraser describes this as ‘The Third Space’.
Taking the opportunity to reflect, rest and reset enables us and our children to transition between school and home well, being ready and present for one another. The Bible lets us know that God has provided a Third Space to reflect, rest and reset. This Third Space is prayer. The Bible invites us to take time to reflect on our relationship with God, to enjoy the peace and rest the He offers and be prayerfully ready for the next of life’s challenges. This is particularly evident in the book of Psalms. This book is a collection of song lyrics that explore the immense range of human experience and the writers’ responses in the light of God’s character and their relationship with Him through all of life’s ups and downs.
This past 18 months has included a larger number of ups and downs than usual. However, creating a third space for ourselves and our children can help us manage our nervous excitement in the weeks ahead.
He says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.
Mr Keith McMullen