By Esther Wendel-Caraher

Principal, Kettle Creek Public School

Well, as unbelievable as it is, we are here again, and we are back to learning from a distance.  If you would have told me a year ago that we would still be here, I would have told you that you are out of your mind. Now, here I am a year later, thinking that maybe I am going out of my mind.  When will this end?  What can we do?

Just when I think I’ve learned all there is to learn from this pandemic, it goes on a little longer and a new nugget of learning is uncovered in my life.  So, the nugget for this round of closure is that I have a choice here.  I can resist and be negative or accept what is and try my best with the cards I’ve been given.  With this thought in mind, I am trying to be intentional about choosing to go with the latter because my negativity is giving me frown lines and the Lord knows, I have enough lines and wrinkles already.

As you can imagine, this year has been a pivot parade for our staff and students, but we have noticed that this time around, most families are rolling with this reality, and it seems that they are getting used to it.  We are really hoping that everyone will do their part to get our COVID-19 numbers under control so we can finally move on and get back to our collaborative, in-person learning model soon.

In the meantime, we are once again doing our very best to support our children and families in their academic learning however as a team, we recognize how challenging online learning and another round of COVID-19 restrictions can be for everyone so, we have sent a few reminders to the members of our community. I have adapted them slightly here in hopes that these may be applicable and helpful to members of the broader community as well.

  1. Just do your best.  If you or your child are having issues or you feel that there is too much screen time, please trust your instincts. The key is to keep up with the reading and math each day if you can.  The other areas of learning will sort themselves out.
  1. Let someone know if you or a family member is struggling.  There are so many wonderful people in our community, and we have witnessed how people rise to support and help others.  Don’t be afraid to let someone know if your family needs a hand.  If you need to take a day off from the online, do not stress. Communicate with teachers and, or community members so they can adjust accordingly and appropriately support your family.
  1. Get outside.  We have been at this for a long time and we are all going a little crazy.  Prioritize 30 minutes outside each day for you and your child(ren).  Research indicates that the great outdoors play a significant role in maintaining good mental health and while we are apart from each other, it is really important for everyone in your family to stay positive and healthy, both mentally and physically.
  1. Be gentle with yourself and each other.  Let’s be honest, sometimes too much family time is just too much.  It is veryimportant to ensure that you as parents or caregivers take care of yourselves.  This is done when you are kind to yourself and model self-care.  By doing so, your children learn the lesson of self-compassion and in my mind, that is by far more important than any online learning lesson will ever be.
  1. Don’t lose hope.  It has been a long haul, but we are almost there.  Force yourself to see the positive in each situation and keep your sense of humour.  Your child will see and learn how to manage times of stress by how you handle this time together.

I am not always eager to accept what life brings me but right now, I am learning the importance of doing so and I have accepted that unfortunately, the uncertainty around COVID-19 continues.  However I happily accept the certainty that our community and nation is made up of amazing human beings who have and will continue to come together in a remarkable way.  I accept that alone I can do very little and that I may need some help from others to get through this challenging time. And I accept that the power of Love and human compassion will empower us all to get across this crazy COVID-19 finish line eventually.  I am quite certain that I may still get a wrinkle or three before this is all over but I suppose I can accept that as well.

More columns by Esther Wendel-Caraher.