It’s that time of year again! Across the nation, schools are gearing up for a new year. Indeed, many are already underway. A new school year means new hopes and new optimism. It means new clothes, new supplies, new backpacks, and looking forward to meeting new friends and new teachers. Children return to school taller and more mature (hopefully) than the previous year. Plus, there are so many brand new students starting school for the first time. It can also mean new fears and new anxieties – for children and parents alike. No, doubt about it, back to school brings up a host of emotions.
During this time of excitement and anxiety, it’s important to reflect on what school means to you. School often serves as a right of passage. Whether it’s starting Kindergarten, transitioning to middle school, or surviving high school, school serves as a common denominator for a majority of us. Whether the school we attended was large or small, public or private, there are still many common experiences (positive and negative) that bind us. Just take a look at all the high school themed movies, tv shows, and books if you doubt this.
These common school experiences shaped who we are as adults. They helped us form bonds that have lasted over the years – especially now that it is so easy to reconnect and keep up with our former childhood peers. This school experience will likewise shape who are children will become too. Being a parent or educator means that we must strike a fine balance: be nurturing, but not smothering; be protective, but not rescuing; provide guidance, but not rigidity. These balances are not easy and we will often waiver from one end of the spectrum to the other. But overall, if we provide a safe and loving environment, we know that that will help our children thrive. The good news is that children are naturally resilient. Children are naturally curious and imaginative. They inherently want to succeed. If we create the space to help nurture that intrinsic creativity, that is a gift that will keep on giving.
So as we begin the new school year, let us embrace this creative tension between excitement and anxiety, and, let’s give our children to the tools to navigate that space in between.
“Here we are in this ocean. Between light of day and dark of night. Between nature and destruction. Between joy and blues.”
– Ziggy Marley, Joy and Blues