by Jackie Sinnerton and Isabella Magee — 2 MAY SATURDAY MAY 2 2020 COURIERMAIL
CHILDREN have been given a lesson in life skills through the COVID-19 pandemic that experts say will help them thrive when the invisible enemy has gone. Experts believe the way children behave and think will change mostly for the better, creating a generation that has learned in an organic, survivalist way. They say this could never have been manufactured and happens only in times of unpredictable crises, like wars or pandemics.
Demographer Bernard Salt said the pandemic would remain in the memories of children for their lifetime and they would look back fondly at the period when they were protectors of old people and witnessed their parents roll up their sleeves and get on with beating fear and uncertainty. They would value the time when big institutions like government led strongly and were unflappable.
But mostly they would recall when their family unit turned into itself, and mums dads and brothers and sisters built rituals and stress free-fun that outshone the madness of extra curricular activities and frenzied weekend playdates and parties.
“Children have seen their parents in a completely different light through isolation,” Mr Salt said. “Dad is at home all the time and is a teacher, and mum is not just a cook and cleaner but she makes very important business calls. This will allow the kids to have a greater respect and understanding for their parents.
“The children will have learned resilience through the tough times and most will have felt protected and safe in the hands of their parents boosting their confidence and feeling of comfort.” The social commentator believes one of the pros to come out of long isolation is that kids are likely to have experienced boredom. Their lives would have hit a stillness that is good for them.
“Boredom breeds creativity and self-reliance, essential ingredients for future life,” Mr Salt said. Children have been very aware of the need to protect their grandparents from the killer virus. While they might miss them in isolation, there is a pride in making sure they are safe and kids get a kick out of teaching the elderly how to tune into Facetime or Zoom.
While some children may move forward with the fear of germs Salt believes most kids will simply have a system of hand washing and hygiene that will stick with them.“I think personal hygiene has got sloppy in recent years, especially handwashing, so this will be a good thing,” he said. Professor Amy Cutter Mackenzie (pictured left), the Dean and Head of School for the School of Education at Southern Cross University, said children had had the benefits of independently managing their learning and had enjoyed that freedom.”Many children will have gained the skills of organising and preparing themselves for learning while at home,” she said. “I think they have benefited greatly for the fact that learning has been slower and a lot deeper.
“Schools would benefit from slowing down their extra fast paced learning.”The education academic believes many kids will love getting back to class to see their friends but there might be an adjustment period. “I have two children learning from home and I know that they have missed their teachers and the teachers have missed them. “I’m not sure if pupils will automatically respect their teachers more but I think their parents will,” she said.
Educator in early childhood, Lucy Cook, has been watching how kids have navigated through the pandemic and she, too, believes that they will emerge feeling confident, cared for and safe.“The best part is that families have come together in healthy positive ways like spending time outdoors and playing games,” she said. “It would be nice if we saw speech problems in small children improve as they have spent so much more time with their parents. “A lack of communication at home has hampered speech development in recent times.” Ms Cook believes children have picked up on the kindness epidemic and have built more empathy and understand it is important to help others. older with the view it is important to support those in their community and neighbourhood, like buying locally in their comer store,” she said. Centres will continue the handwashing schedules. “Some kids might have a fear of the virus but I think kids will continue to enjoy playing in the dirt as they have for generations,” she said.