• Preparing for a New School Year

    Recently I was having a conversation with one of our team, Rachel, about the beginning of the new school year; It’s fast approaching. As children begin to prepare for the inevitable beginning of a new year, ‘summer reading’ becomes a buzzword around houses across the state. As a university instructor, I start getting emails about syllabuses and textbooks. Teachers are already starting to collect new materials and prepare for their pre-week. All of the above is, after all, just that: preparation. So much of a new year begins the whole mechanism that is ‘school’ begins again. While the administration has been working and preparing for the first day of school since shortly after the last day, now, teachers too are assembling for pre-week to get their rooms ready and begin their yearly check of lesson plans, materials checklists, and locking in as they focus once again on teaching their students. All of this preparation is important: it helps set the tone for the year. But just as teachers and administrators and professors prepare for the beginning of the school year, students and parents also need to prepare.

    I’m too busy managing summer schedules to prepare for the new school year. Can’t it wait?

    We all fall into a summertime routine. Season is over. There’s less traffic. It’s easier to get around. It’s lighter later. You stay out longer or we make plans for later in the evening than you might normally do at other times in the year. You might even notice you’re more active at this time of year. It makes sense, after all. You live in a veritable paradise here in Palm Beach. There’s so much to do, from public parks and beaches to community events and nature trails. Whatever your interests, there is always something to do. But then suddenly, like an abruption, we are back in school cycles. Buses stop by your community picking up and dropping off children. You may have children of your own. They have to start waking up earlier. So do you now. Even if you don’t take the time to consciously prepare, you will be unconsciously preparing for the inevitable change when it arrives.

    If our lives as adults change so dramatically during the school year, think about what might be going on in the mind of your children. Their routine changes. They have to deal with new challenges. From learning more difficult material to making new and maintaining old friendships. Those challenges can loom large for children. That’s why, as the new school year begins, it’s important to prepare for it.

    How do I go about preparing for the unknown of what a new school year brings?

    There are a number of tip you might consider to make the transition back to school easier for you and your children:

    • Be deliberate about it. Make note of the changing season. Highlight accomplishments of the previous year; evaluate any shortcomings you and your family may have had and recognize those areas as your areas of growth for the year. The new school year gives you an opportunity to grow as a family and learn from what didn’t work for you or your family in the past one.
    • Devise a plan to conquer challenges. Maybe last year things shifted or changed unexpectedly mid-way through the year and you fell into a routine that didn’t work for you or your children. Perhaps one of your children suffered a setback, or another started being more active in school but still doesn’t have their license. In either case, now that it’s a new year, you can create a new habit or pattern for your family that meets the needs of where you are all collectively at in order to create contingencies for those circumstances.
    • Be open to changing the plan. Let’s be honest: plans don’t always go exactly as we thought they might. Your schedule at work gets busy unexpectedly; your daughter decides she wants to joint the swim team after insisting she wasn’t interested this year. You find the perfect new house and decide to move but have only two-weeks to close. These things do happen. They happen all the time. That’s why it’s important to plan but be flexible about it. By maintaining and building that attitude amongst your family, you can not only grow closer, but also be more accepting when life’s unexpected happens.

    Finally, beyond those suggestions, you might also consider having a before-the-school-year check-in with us. This is what Rachel and I discussed during that conversation I referenced at the top of this blog. Sometimes, it can help you and your family to sit down and really evaluate how things are going and how everyone is feeling as they get ready for the new school year. This isn’t just limited to you. If you think your children or your whole family would benefit from a check-in, we’ll help facilitate and guide you alone the way, whether it’s to help you discern what emotions, stress, or challenges you or your children face. We are happy to help you in your path towards preparedness and mental wellness.

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