The media certainly tends to focus on the ‘doom and gloom’ scenarios and our children can’t avoid seeing and hearing our worry, anxiety, and dare I say it our ‘panic’. It is at this time as we experience social distancing, and isolation I am so glad our schools are still open, providing our students with some sense of normalcy and routine. Our schools have amazing teachers that have recognised these fears and are building new curriculum late into each evening to help our students overcome, and more importantly understand the times, fears, and the microbiology of the current uncertainty. I love my son's Year 3 teacher who banned the word ‘virus’ and ‘corona’ for a day, and changed the science lesson to included how germs spread in different environments. He certainly slept better after her insight, care and teaching.
I do feel however that our kids are more and more anxious in today’s society. Not just because of the coronavirus, but as they experience less time for social emotional learning, and more time being busy, distracted, and entertained. I look at the way they learn about the world in an immediate and reactive environment. I think on the whole they are watching television, reading social media, and stories that are containing less of an internal voice.
I wonder if the answer to the anxiety of our children is the need to hear stories which hold within them self-reflection, the ‘self-talk’ of a narrator's voice. Of course, I am thinking of stories like Anne of Green Gables (L.M. Montgomery) from my own formative years, but today we have some amazing stories with just the same amazing sense of exploring your own voice and the reflection that goes alongside. Some of my favourites are Withering-By-Sea by Judith Rossell, The Girl, the Dog and the Writer by Katrina Nannestad, or this week The Secrets of Magnolia Moon by Edwina Wyatt. I love David Walliam’s for his added humour within his narrator’s voice, and Emily Rodda who last year released the amazingly strong voice and struggle of His Name Was Walter. Detention by Tristan Bancks was my own unsteady and then confident voice for a week, and I adored the beautiful Vincent and the Grandest Hotel on Earth by Lisa Nicol (These are just some of the books available for primary school aged readers which hold strong narrator’s voice). We have some amazingly talented storytellers, and our children desperately need to hear them. They need to hear a narrator’s voice, to experience self-talk in safe, considered, and crafted ways, News and Stories that are free from chaos, that share joy as well as fear, that build a way forward with positive, practiced self-talk. This is the way forward for our anxious children and students.
They need to walk safely in the shoes of others, to be able to hold it in their mind, be able to walk through the journey of others and experience and learn to build their own narrator’s voice! Our stories share and hold in them the secret of self-confidence! Please gift a book during these times to a child, download an audio book, or read, read to your child!