Back to School during Uncertain Times
Fall is a time for change. Change in what the new school year will bring – for us as parents and adult learners, for our children who are students of all ages. Although Change is expected, it’s also stressful. Feeling stressed is difficult and challenging. It can also motivate us, and often does, each fall, as we establish new rhythms and routines. These new routines lend structure to what becomes Schedules. Many parents, and some kids, ultimately welcome this renewed time of structure, of getting back on a schedule.
This year is different. This year our Back to School routine is filled with uncertainty. In a time of uncertainty, let’s go back to the basics, our ABCs.
In this time of uncertainty (COVID), in a time where we crave and expect certainty (SCHOOL STARTING), especially when we’ve been waiting nearly half a year, EVEN WITH ALL THAT…
the very best thing we can do right now, is to model for our kids to ALLOW not knowing for sure. We must teach them to tolerate not knowing. Not knowing brings big feelings. We WANT to know how they are feeling and why – so we can validate these feelings. Then, we move forward together to figure out how to make things feel better.
Moving forward together with the goal of making things feel better first requires coming up with FEEL BETTER ideas. Brainstorm together ideas on “how to make things feel better.” You saying it and your child hearing it is the first step on making it feel better (that’s validation). Getting kids involved in problem solving is empowering and makes them feel like they are part of the solution… the solution being to feel better.
Be CURIOUS and CREATIVE
How do you best BRAINSTORM feel better ideas? Get curious (try asking your child the questions below), and then get creative.
What did you learn about today?
What is something interesting or funny you did today?
What was the most fun thing you did today?
What are you most looking forward to tomorrow?
What was the toughest part of your day today?
Where can you seed and nurture creativity within these conversations with your child? You don’t have to have the answers – in fact, we as parents rarely do have the answers that feel the best to kids. We just have to be willing to listen and then add a little imagination to bolster creativity.
DOING is what adults often can bring to a time of uncertainty that adds the grounding, the guideposts that we and our kids need in times like these.
So come up with a schedule. Maybe you re-use parts of past fall schedules that feel right, are familiar, add comfort. What’s a school night routine? Do you streamline your dinner planning each Sunday? Move up bedtimes? Eat breakfast together?
Structure your day, naming the predictable components and consistent times to use as guideposts. This allows kids – and you as you walk alongside them on the journey – to stay in the present moment. Relying on routines allows us to find a comforting rhythm to the day – helpful in this time of DISCOMFORT and uncertainty.