Back to School
Another school year is upon us! We work with students too and have them run the gamut of emotions at the beginning of the year ~ nervous, excited, confident, filled with dread, curious, you name it! A new year can feel filled with the unfamiliar, and it can also feel like some of the same concerns can follow your child from year to year, even when they are trying to shift into feeling refreshed and self assured.
So where is your beloved child at emotionally? And what can you do to help them navigate their new year and new challenges with as much calm, motivation, curiosity, and self-love as possible?
Thankfully there are many things that you can do to help your child be empowered and to intentionally stack their personal environment for healthy learning. Now that the school year is officially underway for everyone, it is a great time to check in with your child. See how they are feeling, what they think of their teachers and classmates, what are their wishes and concerns, and help them to set some positive and realistic intentions for the year.
Take the time to sit with each child individually and talk to them about the nature of learning, how it is not linear, and how each part of it ~ “mistakes” and all ~ are part of the process. Let them know that you are there for them and you are committed to helping them have a positive school experience. Read age-appropriate books to them about creating their own growth mindset, building their resilience, and following their dreams.
Help them set some intentions. They can be anything!
“I will speak to the new kids.”
““I will learn to ride my bike to school.”
“I will get better at math.”
“I will see my mistakes as motivation to learn.”
“I will learn a new joke a week.”
“I will try new things and not be discouraged if I am not good in the beginning.”
“I will make one new friend.”
Anything! Write their intentions down on something appealing, and post it somewhere visible. If your child(ren) is old enough and willing, have them write a letter to themselves to read at the end of the year. Ask them to put in as many details as possible about what they want to happen this year.
If they are up for it, make some affirmations together! The magic of writing these down and saying them out loud can be immeasurable for a young person’s positive self-development.
“I am going to be as me as I can be this year!”
“I am smart and I can learn anything I put my mind to.”
“The right people will like me, and I will not be bothered if anyone doesn’t.”
“I am beautiful, this is how I was made.”
“ I am kind and stand up for myself and others.”
“I am loved and brave and the only me there is in the world.”
“I remember that mistakes just mean that I have not learned something yet.”
Regardless of age, the process of creating and consistently repeating affirmations can have profound short term and long term effects on identity development. And they can be so fun to do with your kids! Make them entertaining and full of joy. Also, of course if you have a tween or teenager, they may not wish for you to be a part of their process, but if they’re willing to hear it, share ideas with them for ways that they can use affirmations and intentions for themselves.
And beyond intention setting and affirmations, be thoughtful about what resources they may need. That may be a tutor, an in-class buddy, a mentor, regular check-ins with their teachers, assigned “mental health” days they can use throughout the year, encouraging notes in their lunchbox, a clear system for incentives for their goals being met. You know your child best, so intentionally choose the tools that they will respond most positively to. Understand their love language for learning support.
When I was young, my mother allowed me several “mental health” days a year. Setting this up ahead of time made me feel like she understood that school has many challenges and that my young problems were just as big to me as her grown-up problems were to her. We were being proactive as a team about my emotional health.
Acknowledging the enormity of your child’s perception of their life will go a long way in making them feel supported. Again you know your child best and know whether they need more hands-on direct support or whether you must work your magical unconditional parental support from behind the scenes. However, you choose to support your child(ren) in their new year, be intentional about it. Think of what you know matters to them and surprise them with gestures that let them know that you truly see them, hear them, validate their experiences, and will always be there for them. Ask them questions and listen to what they say ~ and what they don’t say. Remember that the learning experience encompasses far more than just academics. All of their growth matters!
Here’s to another magical, challenging, stumbling, bumbling, exciting, happy, sad, calm, and tumultuous new year of growth and learning. Let’s all be intentional about making it as peaceful and full of delight as possible.