Shelton teacher sees incredible resilience in children during pandemic

Photo of Brian Gioiele
Kimberly Atkinson, kindergarten teacher at Booth Hill School, correcting a student's SEESAW assignment for the day.

Kimberly Atkinson, kindergarten teacher at Booth Hill School, correcting a student's SEESAW assignment for the day.

Contributed photo

Kimberly Atkinson, a kindergarten teacher at Booth Hill School in Shelton, said the pandemic has changed how teachers educate students, but it has not changed what students are taught.

“If anything, it has brought to light some of the very life skills that educators have been infusing into the academic curriculum for some time now,” Atkinson said. “We call these skills ‘social-emotional learning skills.’”

Atkinson said one such skill is resilience.

“In September 2020, as a kindergarten teacher, I was very worried about returning to school,” Atkinson said, “not only because of my fear of somehow getting my students or others sick, but also because there were so many new COVID protocols that I was not sure how a kindergartner, who typically struggles to transition into the structured format of grade school to begin with, would handle it all.”

Atkinson said what she found was astonishing.

“Right from the start, those 5-year-olds demonstrated a resilience that rivaled many adults in our world today,” she said. “They came in and kept those masks on, albeit quite a few reminders to ‘hide your nose’ each time they fell down.”

Atkinson said the students followed procedures when she asked them to keep their distance in line, reaching their arms out in front of them like little mummies walking through the halls of Booth Hill School. She said they nodded in understanding when they asked her why they could not go on the playground and she explained how the virus could spread that way.

“They did not question the rules … they did not throw a fit,” Atkinson said. “They showed a maturity beyond anything I have ever seen of this age group, and I can only contribute this resilience to the amazing parents and adults in their life who prepped them prior to entering the classroom.”

Right now, according to Atkinson, the world sees this pandemic as robbing all of so many things, and “I agree it has, but it has also blessed us with much as well.

“There is a good chance that our students from this generation will have a stronger resilience than those that came before them,” she said. “There is a good chance that they will treasure activities, once they are allowed to do them again, like how excited they got when they returned to in-person school recently, and there is a good chance that they will be better equipped to cope with the challenges life throws at them as a result of this trauma that life has thrown at all of us.”