In the secular world, there is constant talk in the media about an inundation of anxiety being experienced by children, teens, and adults alike. Interestingly, I have been working in local yeshivas and schools in our neighborhood, and aside from a sprinkling here and there, I don't get the feeling that there is much angst in the student body. Is that so? And why might that be?
On the one hand, we know that structure, schedules, socialization, and routines are protective factors against anxiety. Our schools are doing a phenomenal job at that. Schools are just about back to normal. On the other hand, is it possible that we haven't made a space for kids to talk about their feelings regarding COVID? Did we shut down their feelings so that it now appears that all is well? Are we afraid to open the can of worms?
What would happen if teachers asked their students to write compositions and essays on the topic of COVID? What would they learn about their students' inner worlds? What would happen if parents brought up these topics with their kids around the dinner or Shabbos table? Perhaps we can help our kids become more resilient by having these conversations!
So here are some suggested topics:
What changed in your life when COVID happened?
What changed for the better?
What changed for the worse?
What do you like about COVID?
What don't you like about COVID?
What about COVID makes you happy? sad? worried? angry? joyful? peaceful? calm? resentful? etc. (Pick any feeling you think might be helpful for kids to talk about)
Do you want COVID to continue? Why?
Do you want COVID to end? Why?
When COVID ends, what changes that started because of COVID would you want to get rid of?
When COVID ends, what changes do you want to keep?
I'd love to hear about more ideas and topics that other educators, professionals, and parents have had students and children write about or discuss. I'd be happy to post these ideas so that others can benefit as well.