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School drop off after self isolation

Today 25th of May 2020 the paths and playgrounds of Queensland’s schools will fill with feet, bags, lunch boxes, drink bottles, toe taps, elbow taps and shrieks of delight.

Across the media, parents were posting how they could not wait for home schooling to end and for kids to return to school. However, home schooling did work for some.

Parents were worried that children would miss out on vital learning. However, there is anecdotal evidence to the contrary from Christchurch, New Zealand.

There is something that we can do to support our mental health and our kids’ mental health through the transition, a few deep breaths may work wonders.

My kids were both excited and nervous to be heading back. My daughters seemed to be endlessly brushing their hair, the before-school salon was open for business. Their brother had led the charge two weeks earlier and returned to school. With daily bribery including special lunch boxes and a hot chocolate every now and then, he and I made it through the long two weeks.

Now the house is quiet, even the dog is a bit lost and bemused by this turn of events. It has been nine weeks of five people bouncing around this home.

On many levels home schooling worked for our family. It turns out I am not alone. In the land of the star-spangled banner home schooling also worked for some people.

An article in the New York Times reports ‘Not everyone hates remote learning’ (1). It states that for some, remote learning has been a blessing with children and teachers flourishing in the online environment. For the shy and introverted, the minefield of school social pressures has been blissfully avoided. It appears that for some teachers and children there is a lot of anxiety about school.

In my home it was not only the anxious kid and her mother who did well, we all thrived.

My kids, who are neither shy nor introverted, flourished at home although they did miss their friends. Not many friends though. Considering they are presented with around 700 candidates for friendship it was only a couple of names that were repeated wistfully.

After the Christchurch earthquake, an ABC News article (2) reports that children who did not have access to online learning did well in their exams. The children of Christchurch were dealing with multilevel trauma. The trauma for some would have been of loss of not just loved ones, but also the loss of their home and school. The children’s physical landscape had changed. They had red zones, rehousing and aftershocks to deal with. The daily aftershocks would have been almost a taunt that it could all happen again so easily. The children of Christchurch survived and thrived in their exams.

Through the media, we are reminded that these are isolating and anxious times. For some, isolation has brought a freedom from the anxiety of social pressure. For some, returning to the hallowed ground of school may not be a cherished and longed-for opportunity.

With a staggered start for different age groups in Queensland, the prep and year ones returned two weeks before the rest of the school. When the little brother stepped into the breach and headed back to school, I came home and cried. Spoiler alert. This stretch of sanity that you may have been longing for may not quite pan out as you expect.

However the return to school goes for you and your family my advice is take several deep breaths. Maybe you will be celebrating that life is getting back to normal, or maybe you will be a little bit sad.

As a coach and a mum of three young children I am often going on about taking deep breaths and diaphragmatic breathing.

Taking the time even for five deep breaths in the morning before you get out of bed can help. (In through the nose out through mouth, pursed lips as if you are forcing the air through a straw.) This pause and focus on your breathing in the morning will help you, put a pause in your day when the wheels may be in danger of falling off.

I am not suggesting ice baths and taping your mouth to encourage nasal breathing. However, an article from the Sydney Morning Herald (3) is interesting as it states the benefits of deep breathing and the lengths people go to focus on their breath.

I am happy the kids are back at school, and my kids are happy to be back. I am hoping that school will provide fewer hours in front of a screen.


(1) Times ‘Not everyone hates remote learning’



I am a coach, mother and wife, living in the Sunshine Coast in Queensland, Australia. I grew up in South London, in an immigrant family in the suburbs. But I had good fortune with my parents: Dad was born in Calcutta, India, and my Mum came from communist Poland. In the 1970s I got to leave Croydon, and travel with my family through India, and behind the Iron Curtain. I saw parts of the world that my classmates could not comprehend. It sparked my wanderlust and gave me a great respect for how big and diverse our world is. And I gained an ability to move between different cultures, assimilating into them.

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