With COVID-19 restrictions easing across the country, and devastating floods hitting Queensland and NSW, change has become a constant in the lives of children and their families. A recent study shows that children born in 2020 will experience a two- to sevenfold increase in extreme events, compared to their grandparents.
This is on top of COVID-19, which has caused an unprecedented and elongated period of change and uncertainty. For young children, this period represents a large proportion of their life.
To support children to understand the impact of change and build resilience to respond to change, The MacKillop Institute and Southern Cross University have developed resources designed for primary aged students that offers a fresh, fun and safe approach to learning how to adapt to the change and uncertainty associated with the pandemic.
‘The Rockhopper Toolkit: Finding your feet during times of change’ takes inspiration from rockhopper penguins and builds on the knowledge accumulated over 25 years of Seasons for Growth programs, evidence-based programs that support children and adults to work through change, loss and grief.
Developed in partnership with the Centre for Children and Young People at Southern Cross University, the Toolkit is underpinned by research evidence, leveraging what works best in supporting children through difficult times, including the most recent advancements in resilience science.
The free Toolkit is comprised of three videos, each around 10 minutes long, with pauses for facilitated activities. Each video builds upon each other, and it is recommended they are delivered across several days or weeks, to allow reflection and learning in between the sessions.
Manager of Seasons for Growth programs, Fiona McCallum says: “We didn’t want to add to teachers’ stress during this time. The videos are easy to facilitate with minimal prior preparation or resources. Our hope is that they offer a creative, shared approach to social and emotional learning and spark supportive conversations for children and young people across the country and beyond.”
Fiona says “The importance of discussion and a shared language to help children to understand their shared experience, and the support available.
“Seasons for Growth programs and this COVID-19 Toolkit provide children with an opportunity to discuss potentially challenging life experiences in a safe, respectful and ethical way. This proactive engagement with children helps to address issues like isolation, loneliness and anxiety before they progress,” Fiona said.
Professor Anne Graham AO, Director of the Centre for Children and Young People at Southern Cross University and author of the Seasons for Growth programs agrees: “These resources are not about dealing with the pandemic, they’re about learning how to adapt with experiences of change and uncertainty in our lives. Whilst many families and adults are relieved to see easing restrictions and eager to get back to normality, we know that children and young people need appropriate information and support to make sense of their experiences when they are ready to do so.