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  • Writer's pictureJudy

Oct. 25, 2020: Flexibility v Stability

2020 has been quite the year so far. The year started like any other for me (and probably millions like me) when I looked ahead, set some goals, made some plans, and got on with it.

Then our world changed. Dramatically. And we were all forced to make changes. Big changes. But then the changes we made had to be changed. And adjusted. And just when we got used to those changes, we had to change again.

If I had to pick one word so far that summarizes how to survive 2020, it would be flexibility. Being willing and able to change course. To make adjustments in our goals, our procedures, our processes, and our plans. To change the structure of our days and the rhythms of our week, whenever necessary.

Clearly my perspective is colored by my work as a teacher and a writer. That is where my experience lies. But looking around at friends and family who work in a variety of fields from law, to health care, banking, retail, and sports, I believe we are all experiencing the need to be able to pivot and change course instantaneously. To not get too comfortable. We are in a constant state of flux.

While it is certainly a valuable skill to be able to be flexible and respond to outside influences that require a shift, I wonder what this is doing to our need for stability. I see this need most in the children that fill my daily life. My students, my readers, my granddaughters. Children, while most certainly needing to be flexible, need to also feel safe. And that safety is felt through routines, stability, and continuity. Things arguably, in short supply in 2020.

Just this month, as many school districts began their second grading period of the school year, there were momentous shifts across the country. As parents opted to change the mode of instruction for their child, those ripple effects are being felt far and wide. As Face-to-Face class numbers increased, teachers who were teaching virtually, returned to the school building to teach, which meant shifts in student assignments across the board in order to level student numbers. For the first time ever, the chance of a child finishing out this school year with the same teacher he/she started with, is slim.

Additionally, entire classes, grade levels, or even schools, have had to pivot to virtual learning during Covid19 outbreaks, only to pivot back to Face-to-Face weeks later. Adjustments. Flexibility. Being ready to pivot directions on a moment’s notice.

So the question is- how, in such unpredictable times, can we put some stability into kids’ lives? That is easy: through books!

Books are powerful. They can inspire, comfort, inform, and challenge. They can be insightful, humorous, heartbreaking, or silly. They can be just what we need as we seek to balance flexibility and stability. So…..

- Pull out all the old picture books, (even if you now have pre-teens) and reread old favorites together. Familiarity provides continuity.

- Find a great chapter book and get into the routine of reading a chapter a night together. Routine provides stability.

- Seek out books that address whatever issues or feelings with which your children are dealing. Insight provides comfort.

- Select a book that will transport you to a different time or place. Escape provides relief.

As we all soldier through this unprecedented and unpredictable time, surrounding yourself with books can provide so much of what we all need.

Happy Reading Everyone!

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