Kate Hawkesby: We've never appreciated our freedom - or teachers - more

Author
Kate Hawkesby,
Publish Date
Mon, 18 May 2020, 11:13AM
(Photo / Getty)

Kate Hawkesby: We've never appreciated our freedom - or teachers - more

Author
Kate Hawkesby,
Publish Date
Mon, 18 May 2020, 11:13AM

How good was the first weekend at Level 2? Never have we appreciated freedom more.

So good to see people out and about, enjoying beaches, parks and the water. So good to see cafes brimming with diners.. and restaurants back open for business.

And today it’s the turn of schools to fling open their doors, and I just wonder how much of an anxious time this might be for many students.

Two months stuck inside is a long time. Learning from home in your PJ’s in the comfort of your own home beats a scratchy winter uniform and rushing through windy corridors to get from class to class.

The learning part at home has been tough though. Many kids did not receive promised laptops, many schools did not have themselves organized to learn online as well as others. Many students suffered without the expertise of teachers and instead having to rely on busy or distracted parents saying, “I don’t know, google it.”

So at least some semblance of normality returns for them today, and the quality of teaching will no doubt increase!

But if we as adults felt weird day one of Level 2 freedom, it’s natural kids will too. Back out into the real world of real life.

This whole pause that put our world on hold for eight weeks, whether we like to think it or not, has had an impact. A NZ Herald story last week quoted experts who said “thousands of Kiwis (were) experiencing heightened levels of anxiety at the thought of having to return to pre-lockdown normality”.

A registered clinical psychologist said, “the adjustment to Level 2 could be stressful”. She suggested “giving yourself time to adjust and get up to speed’.

Structure and routine is important to feeling secure outside of our bubbles, so maybe as we ease our kids back into ‘normal’, we need to show patience that it may take them a little bit longer, and we need to put structure into their days to assist with life back in the outside world.  

We have the uniform laid out at home ready to go, the school bags packed, and I know my daughter is desperate to see her friends again. But I also know early alarms, waiting for the bus on frosty mornings and hustling through the day carting all your books around again is going to be an adjustment.

The Mental Health Foundation’s Chief Executive told the Herald that heading back into daily life may send us on “a bit of a rollercoaster”. So it would pay for us to remember that advice today for our kids, and maybe to remind them that it’s OK to take it slowly. And that advice goes for the teachers too.

Which, while I’m at it, I'm sure I speak for many parents around the country today when I say a huge thank you to the teachers. I don't think we've ever appreciated you more.