Social isolation—a sad necessity during the global COVID-19 pandemic—has taken its toll on individuals and families. For young children, the disruption in daily routines and the loss of attending school with peers has been especially difficult.
To alleviate this, an educator from the Colégio Adventista de Rondonópolis (Rondonópolis Adventist Academy), in the Brazilian state of Mato Grosso, found a creative and safe way to personally meet with her students: wearing a plush heart costume.
Teacher Milena Campos Morais Rosário says she realized the dimension of the problem during conversations with parents via WhatsApp groups. The compulsory distancing hurt students’ motivation in her two third-grade classes.
“I heard that the children were missing the school routine. So, I was thinking about what I could do to kill a little bit of this longing and make love in a safe way. It was then that I remembered that the school has a heart motif that could be improvised as protective clothing,” says the teacher.
Shortening the distance
Since then, Milena started to organize her routine so that between the online classes, offered through the E-Class Platform, and the preparation of the contents, she could also surprise her boys and girls.
According to her, everything is done as safely as possible. “I'm only on the sidewalk at the students' house. I clear the costume at every meeting. I use alcohol gel and wearmy mask,” she explains.
Bruno Daniel da Silva Rosário, Milena's husband and a Religious Education teacher at the same school, supported the plan. “He is my sound designer,” Milena joked. “I arrive with the speaker playing a very lively song. I start to sing and make funny gestures for the children to smile,” she noted.
A Caring Heart
Dressed as a heart, Milena makes both children and parents happier. “My son adapts well in the face of adverse situations. But the teacher's presence brought everything he experiences in the school environment: interaction, human warmth. He was very touched,” said Maria Célia dos Santos Rodrigues, mother of 8-year-old student João Carlos Rodrigues Valentim.
According to Maria Célia, the emotion was so great that as soon as the teacher left, João declared: “Mother, my heart is dancing inside here, with so much joy.”
And it is precisely the reactions of parents and students that have renewed the teacher’s spirit. “I feel joy and satisfaction in returning their affection. Despite the challenges that the pandemic has brought, contact with children motivates me to continue working for an education that goes beyond teaching,” says Milena, who plans to visit all 46 of her students in person.