Looking Ahead: Post-COVID Resilience

Posted May 26, 2021

Looking Ahead: Post-COVID Resilience

By Mariel Goettsch

It has truly been a year like no other.

While the specific impacts this year has had on each family have been unique, we have all endured a deeply shared experience. I wanted to share a post this month that reflects hope following this heavy-hearted year.

Resilience is not a trait that we are born with, but rather is created out of necessity. It is more of a process – often a messy one – that is primarily developed through experiencing responsiveness. When our children are coping with stress or feeling overwhelmed, having a reliable, supportive caregiver lightens the negative impact of the stressor, and thus children learn how to cope and adapt.

This year has driven us to find or cultivate resilience under the most challenging of circumstances. Luckily, the science of child development points to three do-able ways we can affect experiences and help build resilience.

The first strategy is to lighten the negative load. This is a process of removing barriers to living day to day life with ease. For example, this would include securing safe housing, having a refrigerator full of food, or performing self-care: going for a walk, resting for a minute, or calling a loved one, to support your personal mental well-being.

The second strategy is to increase the positivity factor. One of the most impactful methods for doing this is through development and maintenance of committed, stable relationships. We have been extremely fortunate at All Seasons that we have been able to continue providing in-person learning and social opportunities that have helped to expand the number of responsive relationships in our children’s and parents’ lives. It has been incredible to see the depth of the relationships and bonds these children have formed this past year, and I have no doubt that part of this could be attributed to the year we’ve been through together.

The third and final strategy is to strengthen our core skills. This concept is mostly applicable to the adults or caregivers in our children’s lives. We can practice using our core skills of executive functioning and self-regulation in the face of adversity. We can help ourselves by using technology reminders to lighten our mental load, or creating a schedule and routine for days that are all out-of-whack following a school closing or lockdown order. We can gather the family to regroup and remind everyone of family and house rules, and talk about ways that we can be supportive of each other.

It is powerful to consider that even amidst the unknowns of a global pandemic, many people have come together with an extraordinary outpouring of love and support for each other. One hopeful outcome of this experience may be a massive step in the right direction towards a more connected, compassionate, and equitable society.

It has been a beautiful gift to be a place of refuge and continued growth, development, and pure joy for your children this past year. Thank you for giving us the opportunity!

Following the Children’s Lead: The Puppet Theater

Posted May 12, 2021

Following the Children’s Lead: The Puppet Theater

By Calley Roering

While exchanging old toys for fresh ones in my classroom a few weeks ago, I stumbled upon a collection of puppets. I was a fan of puppets when I was a preschooler, so I thought I would bring them into the classroom for the children to play with.

During group time, I presented them to the class by having one of the puppets interact with the children. The puppet, Miss Pink, introduced herself and conversed with the children about their weekends. The children giggled as they introduced themselves to Miss Pink and giggled again while explaining to her what they did over their weekend. I could tell that after everyone waved goodbye to Miss Pink, they were intrigued and inspired. I sensed that the children loved the idea of trying out the puppets themselves.

After group time, some of the children decided to put on a puppet show for others. We didn’t have a traditional puppet theater in our classroom, so one child would hide behind the easel and put on a show while the others sat in front and watched. This wasn’t the perfect puppet theater set-up because the easel would fall down and interrupt the show. As they continued to put on puppet shows for each other, I knew that we needed a proper puppet theater. Ideally, the theater would have room for two or more children to work together behind the scenes and a space in front for the audience.

The next day, I found a large cardboard box and a box cutter – the perfect materials to create our puppet theater. When the children arrived, I let them know that I noticed their interest in putting on puppet shows. I said, “I found a big cardboard box. What do you think we could do with it?” Instantly, the children exclaimed, “Let’s make a puppet theater!”

We got to work right away. First, a child cut the opening. While that was happening, others helped decorate the front with fun drawings. Finally, the children set up chairs for the audience. They were ready to put on their first puppet show with the new theater.
Two children eagerly ran behind it and waited until their peers were seated in the audience. The two children chose their puppets, and the show began.

Making puppet shows led to belly laughs, creativity, learning how to take turns, and practicing how to develop an original story. This kind of natural learning and joy is what happens when I follow the children’s lead, allowing their interests and passions to inspire our daily activities.