The following is the first in a series of posts I expect to write for the 2019/20 school year. I hope these mini essays will offer help to families as they negotiate the pathways of parenthood in our time and place. I offer my perspective as a practicing Montessori teacher and administrator, and draw upon information from colleagues, parents, and experts in the field. I hope you find them useful, and I welcome feedback and input as we go forward. Thanks in advance for your attention!
-Jed Burchett, Head of School
Lazy summer days are giving way to the busy, hectic schedules of a new school year. This can be a stressful time for many of us as we adjust to earlier bedtimes, morning drop off, after school activities, more traffic, and in general busier days. Give yourself some time to settle back into the new year. As we approach the first day of the new, begin having important conversations with your child about how the drop off time will go, and what will be expected. For the younger children this is especially important because new routines can be frightening. A good conversation with your three year old might be "I'm really looking forward to watching you walk to the classroom from the gate by yourself! Which activity on the playground do you think you'll try first?". Having lots of these little talks well before the first day will pave the way for an easier transition and less tears.
These changes can also be stressful on the older child. Re-connecting with friends, meeting new friends, seeing the classroom re-arranged and their own physical and emotional growth can all factor into some anxiety about starting the new year. Changes from late bedtimes back to "school night" routines can also take some time to adjust to. It's a good idea to re-establish school day routines as soon as possible, to allow for the smoothest transition possible. Talk about how your elementary child is feeling about the new year and lend supportive, understanding ears to their excitement and/or trepidation. Work together developing strategies to make the first week fun...maybe a trip to the park or frozen yogurt as an end-of-week treat as a reward for the work of the first week.
Finally, don't forget about yourself (the parent). Give YOURSELF some extra time to get back into the swing of things. When you feel the tasks piling up, try to take a breath, find your center, and try to not sweat the small stuff. It will get done...and if not, well, it's likely not the end of the world. Have conversations with your family about expectations, schedules, and the limits of your time and energy. Eat good food, exercise, and forgive yourself if you didn't accomplish everything on your task list.
In short, make time and space for change, when possible. It will make transitions easier and will make everyone happier. Change can be both exciting and frightening, but with some extra care and attention, you and your child will make it through.