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Navigating the Ups and Downs of Back to School

August is here and while it may still be pretty hot out, our minds are already moving onto the fall and thinking about all the back to school adventures and obstacles that await us. New beginnings can bring on a mix of emotions – excitement, apprehension, confusion. So while we dive into this new school year, be prepared to talk through all those ups and downs. 

One great step to prepare for the school year is to have a look back at the past. Take the time to talk with your teen about how they felt last year went- what things worked well for them and what maybe didn’t. Letting this be their own conversation to lead helps them think in a growth mindset and allows them to take ownership over their actions and their future (the good and the bad). Don’t let this feel like a time for you to list their shortcomings but instead a time for them to highlight what they are proud of and to self assess their progress. Furthermore, think about what experiences they had this summer that may help them in the fall! Did they learn any new skills at a summer job or at camp? Help them see all the growing and learning they were able to do outside of the classroom to dissuade any doubt that they can’t get back into the swing of learning new things – because they never really stopped! 

So once we have taken some time to consider and process our past experiences, how do we keep up the ideas we may have come up with to help us grow? We have talked before about how hard it can be to form habits, but it’s important to remember that everyone has their own styles for learning and adapting to new things. Motivation can seem in short supply during the transition from summer to fall, so take that extra moment to assess what works best for you and your teens. Get creative! Bust out the craft supplies and maybe make mini vision boards to decorate a locker. Collaborate on a motivational mix to share on Spotify and get the group  in the groove for getting stuff done! Don’t shy away from the stuff that feels silly – sometimes it’s the oddest or simplest things that help boost our motivation more than anything else. 

Last but not least, remember to decompress and congratulate ourselves as we go. Celebrating our successes can be a great way to solidify good habits and keep us focused on the bright side of things. Especially after all the complications of the last school year, this year will be one filled with little victories which are always well worth celebrating and appreciating. Consider sharing highs and lows in order to create a space where we can process our emotions about the negative parts of school life and collaboratively celebrate the highs that come with it all as well.  

There’s no way to prepare for every up and down that awaits us this school year. But accepting this is one of the first steps to preparing for it all nonetheless. Know that there are people cheering for you and that amidst all the stress will still shine the fond memories we don’t even know we are making. 

Claire LeMonnier