October 29th, 2020

Relationships and resilience


By Submitted Article on September 30, 2020.

Resilience is not something we are born with; rather, it is generated and developed as a result of the experiences we face as we live our daily lives. The first step in the process of cultivating and building resilience comes from primary relationships we have with our parents and, later, extended family members. It stands to reason that the more positive and nurturing these early relationships are, the stronger the foundational building-block structures become.

As children begin their journeys into our schools, the scope of the already established primary relationships expands to include friends, classmates, teachers and support staff, to name a few. These relationships become a source of strength for children so that, when they experience a stressful situation or an emotional pain, they have support available to draw upon and deal with them. This process cultivates resilience.

When students returned to our schools at the beginning of September, there were many obvious changes, and perhaps some subtle ones as well. Our administrators, teachers and support staff initially focused on ensuring that all of our children and students felt safe, reassured and welcomed into the new learning environment, whether through in-person classes or while learning at home. Understandably, there were noticeable indicators of worry or uncertainty on the part of students in the first couple of weeks. However, with the assistance of parents and school staff, it wasn’t long before our students understood the current reality and were able to adjust and move in a different direction, in spite of all the restrictions and health measures that were put in place. Now, as we close the month of September, routines and expectations are well established and students have unsurprisingly settled in nicely. This is resilience at its finest.

A key factor in achieving mental wellness is our ability to understand adverse experiences and to learn from them. It is often not overly pleasant, but going through the process is absolutely essential in order for positive growth to be realized. Educators continue to support and encourage students’ curiosity, creativity and resourcefulness. In doing so, students will grow in resilience and become compassionate contributing members of society.

As we move forward in our new reality, one thing remains certain. The need for change will continue to be in our midst. This will involve new and challenging experiences in our lives, which will bring exciting opportunities. Let us continue to encourage our students to embrace them, thereby enabling our children to become the strong, resilient people they were meant to be.

Ken Sampson is Superintendent of the Holy Spirit Catholic School Division.

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