Growth through resilience
In this issue of He Kupu the theme of growth through resilience is explored with a parciular focus on the impact of Covid19 lockdown restrictions over the last twelve months. This issue has invited contributions from early childhood practitioners, lecturers and academics detailing practical responses to the lockdown and wider reflections and contributions on the topic of resilience and the role this plays in supporting children’s development. Apparent in the narratives of resilience is the capacity of individuals and organisations to overcome, what may seem at times, as insurmountable challenges.
Challenging circumstances can often result in the development of new understandings, innovation and resilience. When the global pandemic begin in early 2020 and Covid-19 lockdowns occurred, like many in the education sector New Zealand Tertiary College [NZTC] needed to be responsive to the changing environment and consider new ways to support students, particularly those on placements. This article recounts a story of resilience relayed through the narrative of a third year Bachelor of Teaching student (Rebecca) whose final teaching placement was impacted by the April 2020 Covid-19 lockdown and the field practice program leader (Fiona).
In today’s modern, fast paced, and often uncertain world, people have access to vast amounts of instant information from a variety of sources such as the internet and social media which give exposure to a wide range of values and influences. People of all ages are barraged with disturbing images of catastrophic natural disasters, global warming and now the impact of the deadly coronavirus. To help cope with these sometimes overwhelming messages of loss and disaster, it is important to have resilience. Without resilience such traumatic episodes can engulf people and disrupt their emotional and mental balance (World Health Organisation, 2020). Though the skills for building resilience can be learnt at any age, they are best developed in early childhood (Harris, 2016). This article will look at key aspects of resilience, how it develops, and how kaiako (teachers) can foster resilience in early childhood education [ECE] settings.
The world has been challenged by uncertainty, chaos, grief and loss brought on by COVID-19. While inevitable trends such as working from home, online school and social distancing seem to challenge people’s mental and physical health, people are forced to alter their mindsets and adapt to a new normal. In other words, many people have become more resilient and tried to positively respond to the challenges. Over this time, children were also expected to adapt to new routines and experiences which has led to experts studying resilience in the early years (University of Auckland, 2020). This article examines resilience from an early childhood perspective, using Ginsburg’s 7 Cs model namely, competence, confidence, connection, character, contribution, coping and control (Ginsburg & Jablow, 2015). Further, the article will discuss the value of loose parts as a tool to nurture children’s resilience and the role of the teacher in nurturing children’s resilience.
Stress, adversity and challege seem to be woven into the fabric of human life. Research suggests that children who have experienced great trauma can be supported to overcome difficulties and mature into highly functioning and productive members of society (National Scientific Council on the Developing Child, 2015). In the face of adversity, some children will suffer the negative impact of exposure to adversity, while others will go onto greater things and do well despite such challenges (Gartland et al., 2019). This article explores definitions of resilience as used in early childhood education discourse and support educators to understand and identify some of the factors that enhance or hinder children’s ability to change and to make positive adaptations to adversity. Practical strategies that early childhood teachers can utilise to support children and families develop resilience are also suggested.
Teaching in the early childhood education (ECE) sector compels practitioners to work closely and in collaboration with parents, families and whānau. Positive, caring and inclusive dispositions are necessary for teachers to genuinely welcome and embrace whānau into their centres on a daily basis and uphold professional responsibilities (Aspden et al., 2019; Education Council New Zealand, 2017). Teachers also have a unique and important opportunity through their work to contribute to strong and resilient families and communities. In 2021 we are living through a global pandemic that brings additional stress and uncertainty and not surprisingly, the challenges being faced and the support required for many of our families and communities has intensified (Price et al., 2020; Walsh, 2020). This article explores the concept of family resiliency, its relevance and applicability to education and considers a range of family resilience perspectives that can guide teachers’ work in promoting and protecting human rights and social justice (Education Council New Zealand, 2017). This article proposes that all early childhood services regardless of philosophy, model or structure, can firmly establish its focus to be both child- and family/whānau-centred.
Children’s books can be great teaching tools for developing resilience in fun and positive ways. Considering the holistic development of children, stories can support children to overcome challenges, recover from set backs and support a deeper understanding of emotions and happiness.
This book begins… “Somewhere in the world, every 4.3 seconds, a child is born. Many factors then emerge to determine how the child will grow and create her own individual self with a sense of autonomy” (p. 9).
There has been much written about resilience, and especially in the early years, and how this is instrumental in children’s coping with stress and their subsequent life trajectories. This book brings a fresh focus on the developmental evolvement of the foetus, infant, toddler and young child, how resilience shapes a child’s success in overcoming stressful life circumstances, and how we may nurture in ways to restore resilience when it is challenged, so that the child may grow in selfhood and wholeness.
Salutogenesis concerns the origins of health and assets that promote health and resilience, as opposed to the medical model that sees health in terms of the absence of sickness and looks at the risk factors for sickness. This model of health advancement was originally designed in America by Aaron Antonovsky in 1979 and later developed and added to by Antonovosky and researchers and writers from many different disciplines from all over the world including Europe, South Africa and Asia (Mittelmark et al., 2017).