Hello, my name is Adrianna and I’m one of the teachers at Real Red Riding Hoods forest school. Within the last few weeks many families found themselves thrown into a different lifestyle, a different routine, a different rhythm. We are now all homeschooling! Isn’t it great? (I say in half truth half jest.) I’ve homeschooled my children for four years and I still feel thrown for a loop. As a teacher at the Forest School we were out of the house three days a week with friends in the forest and now we are home every day of the week.
When the school closed for the Covid19 virus pandemic I naively thought, “Oh, we can go to the museums and library and catch up with friends.” Within 24 hours I realized that was a huge error in thinking and that for the next two weeks to possibly eternity we would be home.
I think many of us (those seasoned homeschoolers and those new to homeschooling) are tempted to use this time to get stuff done! Let’s double up on math lessons, let’s add a foreign language, we should work on our summer bodies as well! No time like March to get ready for beach season, even if we all end up self isolating through the summer and don’t see a swim suit or a beach.
But as the pandemic continues I think I’m going to focus on two things. If I’m able to do more than that’s a bonus, I’m going to focus on gratitude and compassion. I tried doing the extra academic stuff for the first week, and it added anxiety to mine and my children’s days. There’s already so much anxiety and fear in the air. I am switching my home atmosphere from keeping busy to keep myself distracted towards an easing into a steadiness of purpose by practicing gratitude and compassion.
Hundreds of research studies have shown that gratitude increases immunity and a sense of well-being. University of California Davis Psychology Professor Robert Emmons stated in his research on gratitude that grateful people — those who perceive gratitude as a permanent trait rather than a temporary state of mind — have an edge on the not-so-grateful when it comes to health.
Likewise, compassion is an immune booster and great for a sense of well-being and peace, something that we all need right now. A Harvard research study took saliva samples from 132 students before showing them a 50 minute video of Mother Theresa performing acts of kindness. After the video, the researchers took saliva samples again and found that the salivary immunoglobulin A (s-IgA,) a first line of defense for the immune system, was elevated by 50 percent and continued to be elevated an hour later. The students didn’t perform acts of kindness they simply witnessed, through video, compassion.
So over the next few weeks I’m going to focus on being grateful and compassionate with my children. If we don’t get extra math done that’s ok. If we spend more time cuddling and playing legos and coloring while listening to stories about compassion then I think we’ll have a successful self-isolation period and I hope my children remember it as a time of love and kindness and forget about the anxiety and fear.
One last thought, go outside! I have to say it as a Forest School teacher, but nothing boosts the immune system and feelings of peace and well being than going outside, breathing the fresh air and focusing on the beauty of nature.
Thoughts of peace and health to you all,