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Keeping on Track during the Covid Crisis

Keep it as simple as ABC

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School’s out. So this summer, home education will be in.

Following our local secondary school’s online prompts, one of the first things we did in our home classroom (AKA ‘The Dining Room’) was print out a poster by Kristin Wiens based on Dr. Amy Saltzman‘s Mindfulness for Kids and stick it on the cupboard door where everyone can see it. It’s been invaluable in helping to keep this homeschool teacher on track, even if the children haven’t so much as glanced at it.

STEP ONE

A is for Accept.

Accept the situation is what it is.

Dr. Amy Saltzman

The Covid-19 pandemic has changed our lives so thoroughly that it has been hard to accept. However, we must accept the way it continues to affect our lives. Whichever way you look at this world of ours, everything has actually been leading up to this point. It is still up to us to create order during this coronavirus chaos, particularly if we’re home-schooling our children during the Covid Crisis.

Fiction is a great way for children to lose themselves in the moment, which is my understanding of the main goal of mindfulness. The poet Michael Rosen, who unfortunately is currently unwell with Covid-19, reminds us that when children engage with a good book, they become the hero of the fiction in their own minds. This ability to empathise can stay with us throughout our lives, so when we hit tough times, we ought to hit the books.

There is so much bad news to contend with at the present time that you’d be forgiven for believing that there is no higher truth than the arts. This then, more than ever, is a time immerse yourself in great works, be that man-made or natural.

pic @dailingual

STEP TWO

B is for Breath.

Usually when we pay attention to our breath it is easier to feel calm.

Dr. Amy Salzman

I’m currently reading the diaries of one of the UK’s most legendary spin doctors – with his consent I might add – as former press officer to Prime Minister Tony Blair, Alistair Campbell has published his diaries of that time in office. It’s an enthralling read, particularly as Campbell suffered a particularly vicious and widely publicised burnout as a younger man during his time as a political journalist. Therefore, as well as keeping a diary of a momentous time with view to publishing them later, there can be no doubt that he is also keeping a journal in order to keep an eye on his own stress levels. He recognises that he has the capacity to burn out again so is constantly on the look out for danger signs. As he says, he feels that his strength and resilience come from knowing that whatever happens, “it can’t compare with what I felt then” and that he’d change track if he ever got near to it again.

It’s also of interest when he reveals that Blair preached to him privately his view on education, namely that, “if bright kids are not stretched they go off the rails” – advice that seems particularly foreboding now. The same could of course be said for adults of course, although, as Campbell recognises, even adults should not be stretched so far that they’ll break.

Following his time working in 10 Downing Street, Alistair Campbell was chosen as the media manipulator for the British Lions rugby team’s tour of New Zealand. His role then was to keep the press coverage positive whilst that sports team were under the most pressure, which as a fan of sport he must have enjoyed. He may not have needed to spend too much time coaching the coach on motivational speaking; as the Kiwi Warren Gatland has a fine line in big-hitting quotes;

“If you don’t have that attitude and portray it, it will not happen. A big part of success is the belief and the desire to do something.

Warren Gatland, rugby coach

Sporting messages are useful tools because they are easily understood, both by children and adults. And sports is surely the ultimate metaphor in terms of controlling the controllable, by literally keeping your eye on the ball. Which is why, although I do hover around the children in the morning to make it look like I’m keeping them on track, it’s our hour’s daily exercise at the local park at lunchtime during that’s most important. Play is so overlooked in our general wellbeing and yet it’s the time we remind ourselves that, with practice, we can improve our ability to concentrate on our own game, our achievements and therefore our life goals.

Seagulls on goals, Leeds, December 2019. photo : @dailingual

STEP THREE

C is for choose

We can make a choice that is kind to us and to others

Dr. Amy Salzman

We can even choose to turn all this talk of death into a positive if we try hard: one of the messages I saw while the schools were still open should be a burning question for all of us at this time;

It is up to us to make the most of our talents, whatever they may be – and, as I’ve been reminded by reading Arianna Huffington’s Thrive Global posts on linked in, not to take ourselves or our mistakes too seriously either. Let’s not forget to have fun when we can, while we still can.

If we can learn to laugh at our misfortunes then our children can too.

Stay calm, and stay safe.

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