The beautiful thing about learning is that no one can take it away from you.
As we navigate this new school year, many parents are on the edges of our seats.
Eager to find out what the future holds. For our families, our schools, our communities.
And in the meantime?
Our kids are watching. Listening. Asking questions of their own.
What’s a grown-up to do?
Today we’re sharing 5 phrases to help ease the way into a new school year for your kids (whatever that looks like for you):
1. “I don’t know…”
Parents often feel immense pressure to have “all the answers”… especially when the rapid-fire questions start coming. Know, first of all, that your kids likely are wondering about school year plans for the same reasons you are: They want to be able to picture what the (not-so-distant) future holds for them. Take a pause, gather your patience, and then tell them the truth: You’re not sure what this school year will look like just yet. Not only is this an honest approach, but it also models for kids that it’s completely acceptable to not have all the answers!
2. “This is tough…”
Chances are, you’ve got some opinions about the way this school year should go. Maybe those opinions are fairly set; maybe they change 17 times throughout the day. Either way, chances are also good that your opinions differ from those of certain friends, neighbors, family members, and coworkers. And while differing beliefs can kick up strong feelings in you, here’s the challenge: Maintain a high standard of respect whenever you discuss these differences in front of your kids. It takes emotional maturity and life experience to be able to clearly view a person as separate from their beliefs (many adults are still working on this!), so even seemingly innocuous comments about other families can easily feed into a false narrative of “good” vs. “bad” / “right” vs. “wrong”. Instead? Acknowledge to your kids that there are tough decisions for every family to make right now.
3. “I’m sorry…”
No matter how seamlessly your kids might’ve transitioned school in the past (e.g., hybrid or distance learning, new teachers, new school), they’ve almost certainly experienced a sense of loss. Even the mundane rhythms and routine of a typical school day can provide a predictability and comfort that your kids might not even be fully able to articulate. By validating this experience and naming the pieces of their day-to-day that have changed, you open the doors to a deeper level of sharing from your kids. You might be surprised what comes up.
4. “Here’s what I know for sure…”
It’s not about denying what’s been challenging or forcing a silver lining. But clearly calling out the aspects of their daily life that won’t ever change is one way you can soothe your kids (and the whole family) proactively. Maybe it’s the physical space you all share at home. Or the unconditional support and encouragement you (try to!) show one another around the dinner table. Maybe it’s an upcoming birthday or the changing seasons or even the goofy noises your pet makes each morning. These everyday markers of time passing carry real significance for your kids, especially when it feels like so much of their lives is in flux.
5. “How are you feeling about all of this?”
It’s so simple we often overlook it. But asking your kids about their experience (and then offering them your undivided attention) is one of the most powerful ways you can ease them through any transition– big or small.
No matter what this school year brings, we’re with you.
Struggling with school year stress?