We’ve been in lock-down now for well over a month. This is a strange unprecedented period in my lifetime, at least, and certainly in my children’s. Suddenly, we are told to stay home, not take kids to school and avoid other people at all costs.
The first week or so, we found stressful and confusing. My kids weren’t sleeping well, and nor were we. We didn’t know what was happening day to day. Do we go to school tomorrow? Do we stay home? Are we allowed to visit friends? There were lots of question marks.
Week after week, though, we’ve settled into isolation. The kids plough through their mountain of school work from 9-3 each day, only stopping for fruit and exercise breaks. And with neither my husband nor I able to work much, we’ve had a lot of time together. Backyard campouts. Marshmallow roasting. Bouncing the basketball. Walks and bike rides on the beach. Suddenly, social distancing doesn’t seem so difficult.
The news isn’t often on in our house. When my husband and I come across startling and confronting death rates via our phones, we share quiet moments of COVID panic and commiseration. From my kids’ point of view, though, things aren’t all bad. For one, they’ve had their parents around more than ever before. And with no opportunity for social catch ups, and other distractions, we’ve all had time to spend learning and practising new things.
In fact, many new skills have emerged during this period. My youngest has learnt to read. She’s been building up basic reading skills for years now. But with hours to spare, and lots of time for me to sit and listen to her practise, she’s now reading novels herself. My eldest has had a very vague interest in sports, up until now. But with nothing much else going on, she’s passed the time dribbling a basketball, and has been practising shooting hoops. She can play really well!
I have really loved seeing kids all around the place kicking their goals. I’ve seen several videos on social media of kids riding bikes without training wheels. I have heard of kids learning to cartwheel. And others learning house chores or how to make sourdough.
Learning to ride a bike, or make the perfect sourdough does not require natural talent. It requires one very simple ingredient: practise. And to practise, we need time.
With loads more time at home, and more time spent as a family, the COVID period for all its draw backs has been conducive to learning new things and getting better at things. For demonstrating persistence.
The first book in my new picture book series, Human Kind, is called PERSISTENCE. And you guessed it, it’s all about persistence. The book shares anecdotes of kids persisting with new things, like tying shoe laces, reading, monkey bars and learning to ride a bike. The kids in the book are fictional, but all the anecdotes have been taken from real life, when I interviewed kids about times they had to be persistent. From all accounts, these anecdotes are really resonating with readers.
Child behaviour expert, Chrissie Davies, from Chaos to Calm, spoke about how relevant the anecdotes were to her child’s current experience. And many other parents have fed back similar responses to the books.
The Human Kind books give kids the opportunity to see their own experiences reflected back. They also are a starting point for discussion. At the end of the story, we ask: ‘Can you think of a time you were persistent?’ in the hope that kids actively engage with the material.
Child clinical psychologist, Dr Ameika Johnson shares resources in the books to help parents and teachers discuss the topic with their kids. I really liked these questions Dr Johnson suggests asking kids, when fostering persistence:
- How did you feel when you were learning? - What did you do when you made a mistake? - Did somebody help you? - What did they do which was helpful? - How did you feel when you finished? - Is there something new you would like to learn?
Dr Johnson also talks about fostering a home environment where practise is encouraged, and mistakes are embraced.
As I write this post, I am sitting at our kitchen table, with my two kids. They both have their headphones on, their school books open, and are working hard. I am so amazed and proud at their persistence through this period. And while I am happy they get to go back to school soon, I know I’ll always value this time together: this time for making mistakes, learning new things and practising.
How have your kids demonstrated persistence in the time of Corona?
Zanni Louise is the author of 16 children’s books, including her new series: Human Kind. PERSISTENCE and HONESTY are the first Human Kind books available, published by Five Mile and illustrated by Missy Turner. Keep an eye out for more Human Kind books later in the year.
Watch Zanni introduce the first two tiles in this series, here with the help so some special children as they share what they think honesty means. Or click on the image above to view this video.
Teacher resources for Human Kind books can be found at: www.zannilouise.com #SocialIssues #AustralianAuthor #Fears #Family #Emotions