Back to School Tip: Wear a Smile, Not New Clothes!

As we cycle through routines from year to year; for many parents, August is Back to School season with all of it’s rituals including new clothes, new supplies, and other essentials.  This year, I highly recommend experiencing new thoughts, new emotions, and overall, a fresh attitude when considering the upcoming school year.  How about seeing the new year from a fresh pair of rose-colored glasses?

For many parents with children who are served through an IEP or a 504 Plan, often, I hear the following comments from clients when we approach the Back to School season: “It was such a wonderful summer, my kids loved being able to be themselves without the pressure of school …  I regret sending them back when they seem so happy …”. However the ritual of Back to School plays out in your household, I do recommend taking an honest look at the underlying thoughts and emotions associated with how you feel about your child’s upcoming school experience.  If you dread the notion of your kids going back to school, I recommend that you explore this further and look at the causes of this perception. If in your self-reflection, there are feelings or thoughts associated with regret, frustration, anger or fear; or any other negative impression, this is quite familiar for it’s something I hear all the time.  Due to the potential disconnect between the school format and many of today’s children, especially those who struggle with Autism, ADHD, or Learning Differences, there may be a large reservoir of frustration and hurt stored up through the years. In fact, as a child myself, I dreaded the idea of going back to school.  So much that I would avoid anything with a Back to School them like shopping for supplies, new clothes, or even watching TV for there were so many advertisements pushing the whole Back to School marketing campaign.  However, these thoughts or feelings such as dread or fear, do not present the best framework for success or potential growth.

How we feel about our child’s school, and their upcoming experience, may set the tone for our children as they begin this new adventure each year.  I believe the power of intention [our thoughts and feelings below the surface], creates a powerful mindset as well as a platform leading toward future success or frustration.  I tend to believe in the cliche, “We see what we believe”.  And our children do learn from our lead.  So I do recommend looking at the new school year with a fresh perspective, especially if it requires a complete 360 degree shift from how you felt back in June.

Please don’t get me wrong on this: I don’t believe the school experience always presents a positive outcome for all children; life doesn’t work that way.  However, I do believe there is something to be said about going up stream, taking a positive approach rather than pushing against the tide. The new school year from the teachers perspective, as well as most administrators, is truly something to look forward to; a new beginning.   And by working with your child’s teacher from a positive frame of reference, this will set a strong message, one which will be well received.  Especially if your child presents behavior which may often be considered highly inconvenient.  By taking the high road, highlighting grace, understanding, patience, and cooperation, or a combination of these attributes, this creates an intention of collaboration.  And trust me on this one; after years of doing this work, I believe that partnership creates the best platform toward intervention in all situations; where adversarial relations always gets in the way supporting our children.

Best to you and your family as you begin the new school year.  May Back to School present a celebration; an opportunity to look forward with the intent on this upcoming year being special.  For our children deserve the very best and sometimes all it takes is a simple shift of perspective.  And in many situations, a simple smile is a good start!

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