These are strange times, filled with many worries, anxieties and experiences that are difficult to understand and tough to deal with. And that’s just the adults.
Children are feeling all those things, and more, says Linda Timmermans, Pastoral Care co-ordinator at Heathdale Christian College in Werribee.
“Getting children to talk about their feelings can be difficult, and sometimes adults aren’t the best at it either,” Ms Timmermans says. “We could all use a hand when it comes to expressing how we feel. Our Pastoral Care/Wellbeing team knows that stories are a great way to start those difficult conversations.”
While Heathdale has been in the remote-learning mode, the Pastoral Care team has started a couple of initiatives for Heathdale’s primary-aged children and their parents.
Every Monday, Ms Timmermans records her fireside chat, known as ‘Checking In’. For a couple of minutes, she chats to parents about a topic that might be difficult to discuss: Anxiety, feeling different, a child’s first experience with grief, and how to thrive (not just survive) in lockdown.
Throughout the video, she gives a few helpful tips about how to engage children and their families in these conversations.
On Wednesdays, another member of the Pastoral Care team, David Baird, reads a helpful story related to the same topic.
He encourages conversations about feeling different by introducing students to Wilbur, a bright orange duck with purple plumage, who could only ever fly upside down. Reading the book Wilma Jean and the Worry Machine tackles anxiety, while Zach Makes Mistakes deals with the crippling perfectionism.
“It’s been a great way to engage children in conversation, and Heathdale parents have appreciated the tips,” Mr Baird says.
One Heathdale parent, Jesse Whitehill, says about one of the story-time videos: “My three boys and I watched one today; it was really great!
“Thank you for sharing and helping them understand that although there’s so many changes in life at the moment, we know everyone is having similar feelings and experiences and that it’s normal to feel a little nervous or a little sad. Also to think about some of the fun things we can still do.”
Read some of the blogs by visiting the website below and searching for ‘Pastoral Care’.
Heathdale Christian College, a K-12 co-educational independent Christian college, desires students to become lifelong learners. A NAPLAN top-3 ranking in the west across all age groups demonstrates Heathdale’s strong academic programs. However, the college’s programs and partnership with parents ensures the focus is on students discovering their God-given potential, whatever that may be.
Heathdale Christian College, 75 Derrimut Road, Werribee. Inquiries: 9749 1522 or visit www.heathdale.vic.edu.au