By Mary Spring
My mother was born in 1919, near Elrose, Saskatchewan, in the middle of the prairie. She was the eldest of six children. I share this information because my mother lived in unprecedented times. My mother and her siblings survived.
As young children, my sisters and I heard stories of life on the prairie in the 1920s and ’30s. There were the blistering summer days and the frigid winters. The winds were unrelenting and locusts actually fell from the sky. There was the 1929 Depression and the crash of the stock markets.
Their father, my grandfather survived, somewhat, the trenches of World War I and they lived through World War II. My grandparents survived the Spanish Flu in 1918.
School for my mother and her siblings was very different than what we know.
There was no schoolhouse and no teacher. The children were taught by their parents, neither of whom had any training. My sisters and I are sure that they spent most of their time playing outside, dodging the snow, the heat, the wind and the locusts.
My mother and her siblings completed high school by correspondence. Most of them completed post-secondary education. They all became happy, successful adults. Those were unprecedented times and they survived.
(Above left) Mary Spring’s mother (top right) with most of her siblings in front of their Elrose, Sask. farmhouse. Mary’s sister, Peggy, painted this picture of their mother (above right) with locusts falling from the sky (supplied)
Today’s children are also living in unprecedented times and if we do this right, they too will survive. It took me six years of post-secondary education to become a teacher. After that it took at least ten years of teaching before I felt confident that I was handling my career well. As a thankfully retired elementary school teacher, I can only offer advice to parents and children regarding school during this pandemic.
Children, parents and teachers are trying to manage a completely new way of learning. Children are isolated from their friends. They are stuck inside with siblings and exhausted parents, many of whom are either unemployed or attempting to work full-time while trying to become teachers.
Children are spending countless hours each day in front of a computer screen, that is if they are lucky enough to each have a computer or reliable Internet access. Just a few months ago we all worried about children and their screen time. Now the Internet is a everyone’s best friend. Hours on a computer now will lead to a need for computer screens in the future, so beware. Online learning now may lead to more online learning in the future.
Parents need to do the best that they can with schoolwork. They need to choose their battles. In the end, children will manage, as they are all in the same boat and they will pick up when school begins again.
My best advice is for children to have routines in place, as children thrive on routine. Get up, get dressed. Eat at mealtime. Go outside. Exercise daily. Read more. Write or draw in a journal. Cook and help to run the household.
These unprecedented times will pass and we will survive….just like my mother and her family.
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