As Regional Manager in Wales, Carole delivers ZAP workshops directly to children in schools. Here are her insights.
Kidscape has always enjoyed the links we have with schools, children, and families. Working first-hand with them over the last two years, I’ve seen a change in how children behave, play, and socialise. As we begin to emerge out of the turmoil and try to regain a sense of normality, some of these are significant changes that are noticeable and are of concern. Children have lost their voice and are unable to vocalise how they feel.
"Many children are finding it difficult to formulate and process how they are feeling"
Children learn through playing and interacting with others, whether it be children or adults, yet many children are finding it increasingly difficult to formulate and process how they are feeling. They struggle with knowing how to socialise and how to play, having spent a large chunk of time away from other people. I have had the privilege of visiting many schools delivering several of Kidscape’s workshops and have seen for myself how children have been impacted by this, including isolating themselves from group activities, withdrawing from conversations, and showing anxiety, anger, sadness, and confusion, as well as lack of/deterioration of basic developmental stages.
Now more than ever, the impact on children’s mental health needs to be at the forefront of everyone’s mind who works with children. I am full of the utmost admiration for all schools that I have visited in how they have dealt with the often-intractable challenges over the last two years.
"We must ensure that everyone's mental health is taken care of, as to care for others means we must first care for ourselves"
I have also seen how much the last two years have impacted teachers. I have listened to them, almost at breaking point, share with me how hard it has been, yet how they continue to juggle many balls in the air and put the children’s wellbeing first, often to the detriment of their own. We must ensure that everyone’s mental health is taken care of, as to care for others means we must first care for ourselves.
The pandemic has further exacerbated the concerns of children’s mental health with pressure being put on mental health services to provide support, with long waiting lists that result in children and their families trying to navigate an already difficult situation. Schools take on the brunt of the issues facing children and families, but as educators trying to educate children, they cannot do it alone. Like many adults, children have found it hard to make sense of what has happened over the last two years. We need guidance, support, and understanding of how the pandemic has individually impacted every child, as not all circumstances will be the same. We need to be able to create a future where children’s wellbeing will be something held precious to us all. In this way, we can help steer them towards a mentally healthier future with positive outcomes.
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