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August – Time for a Fresh Start

It’s that time of the year again!

Just when we are getting accustomed to our world being green, we see that first yellow leaf show up on the poplar trees. Hold on to every day of summer you have left, but when thoughts begin turning to school, be ready with some anxiety reducing strategies.

student rock climbing

With every turning leaf, the first day of school starts to be the topic popping up in conversation, and everyone knows that routines will once again have to be established. There is a certain relief that comes with routine. As much as we enjoy the less structured days of summer, the predictability of back to school routines comes with re-establising balance in life.

But… there always seems to be a sense of loss of freedom, flexibility, relaxation and choice when it’s time to back to school!

Worries may begin to surface. Parents, teachers and students begin to generate rather big plans and sometimes overwhelming goals for the school year; things like acing your math class, joining sports teams, learning how to play the ukulele, adjusting to a teacher you don’t know well and making friends all over again.

Interrupt Anxiety with Gratitude

Transitions and changes generate understandable anxiety. You do need goals and plans you will all probably wake up on the first morning of school and hit the ground running. If you feel the anxiety growing as back to school thoughts emerge, interrupt it with thankfulness. It works every time!

Judi Willis, a leading neurologist, reminds us about the significance of a powerful chemical in the brain: dopamine. “It can bring you feelings of deep satisfaction, reduced stress, increased motivation and even exuberant alertness. As a new academic year gets under way, it could also help you improve your outlook – and sustain that positivity.”

  • Talk about your child’s strengths, skills, and best traits while driving or sharing dinner at the table. Help them express what motivates them and who influences them.
  • Interrupting anxiety with gratitude is a Biblical principal. The power of thanksgiving is that it blows away negative thoughts. Willis says that in being grateful and expressing kindness “dopamine boosters are ‘two-way’ streets; you get a boost when you give or receive kindness and gratitude.” At the dinner table make a gratitude list for the educational opportunities in our country – something we cannot take for granted.

kids wearing headphones in class

It’s a new term and perhaps a new you!

Have a growth mindset blackboard

Carol Dweck studies human motivation. She would encourage you to think of a “growth mindset” about the upcoming new school year. Talk to your children about her research that shows when students understand that learning can require the brain and increase their intelligence, they find greater meaning to “grow” academically. Engage your children in filling in the blanks to sentences such as:

  • “I used to be                , but now I am                .”
  • “I used to think                , but now I think                .”

kids in class

Something you should know

Teachers love summer too!
They also find it hard to give up their flexible time!
However, they delight in planning new experiences that will welcome us all back to school and they are getting ready for your family with eagerness and excitement.

In the meantime, hang on to those wonderful lazy days of summer! Grow your list of thankfulness everyday and get your children ready to make a great first impression in a new grade.

See you soon!

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