With the new school year drawing closer, the natural approach for many is to anticipate what set of changes and challenges may arise in the near future. Whether adapting to a new grade, routine, or school altogether, the onset of a new year provides an opportunity to look past the present and plan for upcoming events. With that in mind, a few key methods may help you plan and prepare for the academic year.
“Sometimes the most influential thing we can do is to hold space and listen. The desire can be to help our children fix the feeling, so they move out of it faster but helping them to feel and deal is far more helpful in building their resilience long-term.” – Madison Besser, Willows Community School Counselor
First and foremost, encourage your children to mindfully reflect on the successes, and obstacles they experienced in the previous year. Whether they thoroughly enjoyed their classes or disliked certain aspects of school, it is important to remind them that it’s completely normal and expected to feel multiple emotions. Take the RULER skills that are being taught at The Willows and implement those into your home. Bridging these skills into your home will provide a consistent, unified method to help your children recognize, understand, label, express, and regulate their roller coaster of emotions.
Emotional self awareness is a valuable skill to develop, no matter the age of a child. By promoting emotional flexibility it will allow them to better process inevitable difficulties, in educational or personal settings. Madison Besser, our school counselor offers this advice: “Sometimes the most influential thing we can do is to hold space and listen. The desire can be to help our children fix the feeling, so they move out of it faster but helping them to feel and deal is far more helpful in building their resilience long-term.” Continue this practice with your children throughout the school year and consider setting up a consistent schedule to mindfully reflect with them.
Set a list of developmentally appropriate goals with your children. Then, give them some time to come up with their own goals, specific or broad, and provide guidance if needed.
- For younger children a goal might be, “I will be responsible for my belongings.”
- For older students a goal might be, “I want to have a consistent routine.”
The same goes for the scope of the goal; your children may not yet have a wide-reaching goal for the school year, but they may have an even greater goal, such as a desire to have a certain job when they grow up. Emphasize that setting small goals is fundamental in defining what they aim to achieve, and the practice of setting goals is a means to prepare for greater ambitions in the future.
Once classes, enrichment, and other extracurriculars begin, it’s normal for students, and parents, to become overwhelmed. For many, it’s difficult to appreciate finer details when there’s multiple sources that require ample attention and effort. In such instances, it is essential to focus on each day, one at a time. Staying focused on the present is a skill that many adults even struggle with. Encouraging your children to appreciate the smaller details is not only important for their education, but also for their future personally and professionally.
Remember and accentuate that a school year is a long time, even when they always seem to fly by. There’s plenty of time to grow, to fail, to try again, and to change, but most importantly, there is time to adapt. Preparation is only a single portion of this process, and when we run into inevitable obstacles, remember to reflect, set goals, and take it one step at a time.