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Building a Worry Toolkit

As September draws to a close and the weather is reminding us that it can’t be summer forever, it is time to reflect on how we are all coping with the ongoing Government Guidelines.
At St Christopher’s we were always optimistic about our autumn term strategies because we had survived the summer term regulations with even tighter restrictions. Indeed by transforming our Pods into whole year groups we were able to strongly support our little ones who cannot understand social distancing within their class but have learnt to, as a year group, remain 2m away from each other. Just because children beautifully comply with restrictions imposed by the ‘new normal’ doesn’t mean that they understand them.  It is our job to talk to the children and keep talking about the world both near and far, to offer comfort and reassurance.

Outside school, people wearing masks protect us all but the lack of emotion usually conveyed by a smiling mouth which is normally our social cue for emotions, can cause confusion. Think about how you look when you are pleased. A gentle smile is usually the key that lets children know that people are thinking about them kindly. As they walk in the street or visit shops, the benevolent smile from fellow shoppers is missing. This can stop us from wanting to communicate with others.  We need to remember to explain this to children and verbalise our praise to offer reassurance.
At school we are talking to the children about how they feel. Children are very good at talking about themselves and they learn, with increasing skill to listen to others. We have been talking about worries and how to deal with them. The worst way to deal with a worry, (you will not be surprised to hear) is to keep it to yourself. Hearing stories about how valuable it is to share a worry is just what the children need to reinforce their ‘worry toolkit’.

Take time to talk at home too and be kind to each other. Remember that grown ups need time to talk too and we could all benefit from adding to and strengthening our very own ‘worry toolkit’!
Annie Thackray