The Gift of Back To School
I remember as a kid growing up I always loved September and heading back to school. Chances are I was a little bored and sick of my family. Besides, I loved going back-to-school shopping! It was always so exciting to “break-in” a new teacher and set of classmates. I still love this time of year. Some things never change.
Even though in May I am usually ready for school to be done – tired of homework hassles, missed assignments, “those” conversations with teachers – in August, I find myself inspired and energized, ready to tackle the fresh-slate of a new school year.
Here's the gift “back-to-school” offers me:
1) Return to routine:
The laid-back mindset of summer is fun and relaxing (for awhile), but I find that near the end of summer my kids shift from relaxed to slug-like. When they were still living at home, getting them to do summer reading or help around the house was like pulling teeth. Part of that was on me, as I was growing more relaxed and out of practice being consistent and conscious of what was going on in the house. I know that when I got back in the game, the house and family ran much more smoothly. I also got my home office back to myself, which was a welcome treat after a few months of “sharing space” with the kids.
I find that everyone, particularly at school, has a fresh face and new outlook when Fall comes. After a few months of down-time we are ready to re-focus and let our best and most creative selves shine through. Teachers are excited to meet their new students, and it's the ideal time to open the door to interactive communication. I always scheduled an “introductory meeting” with my son's teachers, independent of his scheduled 504 review, so we had an additional opportunity for face to face time as the school year starts. I shared what I know about his strengths and challenges and specifically talked about “what works” (praise, praise, praise!), knowing that it would save them lots of trial and error in the long-run. I also took the opportunity to do some education – it's amazing to me how little exposure or opportunity teachers get to learn the nuts and bolts of ADHD.
I still love the look and feel of new clothes, unsharpened pencils and empty notebooks waiting to be filled. As they got older, back to school shopping was a great trigger for coaching kids on organizing skills – looking at what we'd purchased, and helping them figure out what they needed to be successful. It's one way that kids begin to keep track of what they are doing and need to learn.
4) A Fresh Start:
Although I know that we can call a “do-over” and start again at anytime, milestones like the beginning of a school year are an important trigger to regroup. I love going back and looking our house rules, how things are going, and adjusting the plan. I always try to tackle (or re-tackle) one new conquest for myself and with each of my kids, whether it's a chore, or an attitude shift. And I try to remember when I do re-group, to be gentle on myself. It's easy to come up with a long-list of shortcomings, and begin the downward cycle of beating myself up. So I try to take the high-road and celebrate what I've done.
Try Loving Back to School
My challenge to you this week is to take the opportunity to “enjoy” back to school. Try or learn something new like you did when you were a kid, and get excited about it. Action creates motivation, so identify those places where you want a fresh start, and just do it! Be on guard not to go to that, “Why haven't I done this sooner?” or “This will never work” place, and tackle one or two manageable areas. Come up with a plan and “go for it!” And if you need an accountability partner, phone a friend and let them know you want some help. That's a great skill to practice at this time of year, too.