As I find myself preparing some words of wisdom again for our School community, I am compelled to revisit the articles I wrote at the start of the pandemic in 2020. In retrospect, I feel my encouragement of parents to embrace the notion of ‘good enough parenting’ and for students to look for the ‘silver lining’, alongside humorous anecdotes about Zoom mishaps, now seem at best earnest, but overall naïve. Who would have imagined that 18 months on, we would still be in the grips of a global pandemic!
However, we are no longer rookies to a lockdown, and many of us approach the whole ordeal with a sense of resignation, rather than trepidation. Once again, we dust off our headphones and play with the various Zoom filters; the frenzy of our first experience with remote learning is noticeable in its absence. While it was a glorious time for innovation and creativity, especially among our students, it is nice to experience a more relaxed pace this time around.
The events of 2020 have prepared us well for the coming weeks. As a school, our systems are in place, and our teachers are well-practised in balancing the benefits of connecting through Zoom while allowing time for reflection. Our students are ‘old hats’ at fashioning their school blouses with pyjama bottoms while creating ‘virtual’ gatherings with longed-for peers. Having been there before affords us a sense of optimism. We know that we can manage this. We are confident that our teachers are working tirelessly to keep students engaged and on track. Once again, we trust that our School will see us through.
However, what is different this time is that most of our community is in quarantine. Isolated to our homes with no capacity to do a quick coffee run or go for a walk is likely to prove challenging for even the most fervent introvert. In what world could we have imagined that a trip to the local Sullivan & Nicolaides for a COVID-19 test would prove the highlight of our week? Despite the obstacles, it is reassuring that we have a tradition at Girls Grammar of pulling together and digging deep. As always, our School remains committed to providing a holistic education to students during this period of remote learning.
Many resources are available to assist both students and their families in managing their social, emotional, physical, and academic needs. These include virtual student counselling sessions, mindfulness activities and at-home gym/exercise workouts. Students can access these resources on Minerva or ask their House Group Teacher or Head of House for further details.
Tips for parents
• Be kind to yourself, prioritise self-care, keep things in perspective, pick your battles, and take things one day at a time.
• Accept that you do not have to function at your usual level right now; chances are, nobody can. For this is not a time for flawlessness, but rather kindness, compassion and understanding, particularly towards ourselves.
• Readjust your expectations and give yourself permission to be ‘good enough’. You may need to relax your standards and let things slide. This is okay. You are modelling for your daughter how to be adaptable and cope in a crisis.
• If your daughter is struggling, acknowledge her feelings (disappointment, fear, stress, uncertainty), but try to help her keeps things in perspective. She will not fail. This will not ruin her life, and she is not going to have to repeat the year. If you avoid catastrophising the situation, then so will she.
• Although your daughter may be doing remote learning at home, you are still her parent. If you think she is working too hard, becoming distressed, or sitting too long in front of a screen, you have permission to step in and tell her she has done enough schoolwork for the day.
• Rely on the Girls Grammar ‘village’ as we work together to support, settle and help every one of our girls navigate the challenge she is facing.
• Stay in touch with the School. Your daughter’s teachers and Head of House are always interested in knowing if you or your daughter need help. When she has not completed schoolwork or missed a Zoom, then let the teacher know. So too, will her teacher be in touch with our students and parents if they are concerned.
• Try to maintain your sense of humour. While the dog barking, garbage truck roaring and the neighbour’s whipper snipper all going during a Zoom lesson may be less than ideal, there will come a time when you will all laugh about it.
• Take a deep breath. Every day you and your children can get some work done, even if you are both wearing pyjama bottoms, consider it a good day!
Resources for parents and students
• The Student Counselling service remains available to all students and families during the period of remote learning. You will find relevant information on Minerva under the Student Care/Floreamus Centre page.
• We are available for email, phone and video-conferencing support for both parents and students in the usual hours that we would be available at School.
- Mrs Jacinta Akers
- Alternatively, contact one of the School Psychologists individually: Jody Forbes, Lisa Manning, Alix Vann, Tara McLachlan
• If you have any health questions or concerns, then please contact one of our School Nurses, Tahlene Gadaloff or Sanchia Watchhorn, via HealthCentre@bggs.qld.edu.au
• Minerva has several resources and tip sheets available for students under the Floreamus Centre page.
• Parents can visit the SchoolTV resources available on the BGGS website. There are several editions, and this one specifically focuses on managing the COVID-19 situation.
Ms Jody Forbes
Director of Student Counselling