I love this time of year! My boys are older now and instead of packing their lunchboxes, I’m packing their suitcases for college. I still look back at their early years of schooling with fondness. You can feel the energy changing as kids end their carefree days of summer and move into the routine of school in the fall. Here are a few pointers for elementary aged kids that can ease the transition of going back to school that I’ve learned not only in the trenches by being a mother of four boys, but also in helping families in my Feng Shui practice.
Small children going off to school for the first time or those still in elementary school learn to adapt their energy quickly to their environment. Their intuitive instincts are raw. They can tune in rather easily and sense their environment which includes all the nervous energy of change. How do we make this transition for them as smooth as silk? We offer them semblances of what they will experience at school, at home. Lockers Create a space near the front door with hooks and a place for backpacks. I like the idea of lockers because it defines their space. Everything they need to walk out the door goes in this space, from socks to hats and gloves. Consider adding a rug they can sit on to take their shoes on and off. This will end the last-minute frantic searches for shoes when you are in a hurry, and they go into slow mo.
Add a bulletin board or basket for notes from school. This allows kids to learn that is it their responsibility to keep you informed of changes in the routine due to fieldtrips, parties, or special events. The idea here is that we have a common place to communicate when we are on different schedules.
I would also consider adding the school calendar and lunch menu. This helps keep everyone informed of holiday schedules and teacher workdays. For working parents, this allows them to plan where their children will go on these days off from school. Knowing the lunch menu allows us to honor our kids’ preferences. We are all naturally drawn to certain foods and repelled by others. Many of us have allergies and sensitivities that must be considered for health reasons. Knowing what to expect gives kids a chance to adjust ahead of time. It also allows them to feel like a regular kid on days when there are options they can enjoy.
ADDED BONUS Many families have one parent that is primarily in the know when it comes to school life. Having a calendar with events posted in a common area allows the other parent to check in and be a part of discussions. Instead of having to get the lowdown from mom or dad, they can ask their child questions directly about the upcoming party or fieldtrip.
This also opens up some discussion around how it went and what they learned, helping everybody stay connected as life speeds up.
When the parenting is primarily left to one parent, that parent becomes an expert on understanding their child. They learn about their kids’ friends, their preferences, their strengths and weaknesses. When that child grows up and leaves home, that relationship remains intact, as they’ve been relating to each other for that child’s entire lifetime.
The parent that relies on their spouse or partner to give them “the skinny” may find that as their child becomes an adult, they will struggle to have any depth to their relationship. This is the unfortunate result of never practicing emotional connection with their children.
When your main concern is the impact of Covid on your family’s health and financial well-being, it can be easy to overlook the minutia of daily life. Take a breath, (perhaps a deep one), and see life through the eyes of your innocent child. Maybe focusing on their joy of being able to walk through the lunch line (because they are dairy free and its hot dog day) is a welcomed change to feeling the weight of the world.
Student of the month All people need to feel connected to their space. It can be easy to designate a kid’s bedroom as the place for their belongings. I’ve Feng Shuied homes in which I had no idea that kids lived there until I got to their bedrooms! (crazy, right?) It’s important that kids also be reflected in common living spaces. This sends the message they are part of the whole. In addition to setting up these areas to accommodate their interests and skillsets, I recommend creating a place of honor to show off your child’s celebratory moments! Depending on your child and their interests, this doesn’t have to be on the refrigerator. If your child completes a Lego set, perhaps a shelf or window ledge can show the family how skilled they are. We all have talents, it’s a matter of discovering them and sending an “atta girl or boy” their way!
Word of CAUTION These are all active spaces!!! That means they are constantly changing. When you allow clutter to creep into these areas it brings with it its partner in crime…chaos. Take a page out of their teacher’s planner and note the way she/he keeps these areas current and organized in her/his classroom.
Put fleeces and light jackets in the lockers in the fall, NOT every coat your child owns. Change those calendars monthly and those menus weekly!
Everybody needs a time to shine. Find wins from each person in the household. That might look like someone who learned to tie shoes and no longer wears Velcro. Yes, it takes 10 times as long to leave the house (prepare for that). Their skillset now includes better fine motor skills and that translates into better command of a pencil for writing…HUGE win!!
By rotating the featured child and parent (just an idea), we acknowledge all the people in the family and show each member that we all are unique and have value.
Cloak of invisibility Harry Potter taught us about this magical artifact that renders the wearer invisible. I’ve adapted this to the world of energy for children. By putting on this pretend coat we are reminding them to manage their energy. We are surrounding them in protective energy and telling them that what people say and do is not a reflection of their worth. Their actions and words cannot penetrate this coat of armor and they can keep it zipped tightly around other kids that might be having a bad day. We can parlay this metaphor into a discussion giving our children a safe way to discuss difficulties they might be having with other children at school.
“Do we need to clean your coat tonight? Any bad words or thoughts making your cloak heavy today?” Kids don’t always know how to articulate bad vibes. Remember they are wide open and sensitive little beings. This helps us help them find the words needed to own their experience. Now we are starting to teach them the power of being self-aware and self-advocating!
Change happens All energy connects. I’ve shared some basic tips to create better flow to and from school from a practical stance. This translates into a more peaceful transition in the morning which sets the tone for the day. These ideas also accommodate the need for children to stay connected to their family as their lives expand and begin to include new people and experiences.
When we help our children make sense of their outer world, we create a sense of safety in their inner world. For many, this is their first experience with people that are not family members. There are SO many sights, sounds and smells that their systems are adjusting to. Giving them continuity between school and home is a great way to soothe their spirit. We cannot control what happens out there, but we can assure them that what happens in here, our home, will serve as a source of strength in the days to come.