September 02, 2011 | The Rev. Dr. Scott Stoner
"Back To School"
All across the land kids of all ages are going back, or in some cases, off to school. There are both outward and inward manifestations of the changes that accompany this time of year. Outwardly, schedules, sleep patterns and daily routines are changing. Inwardly, excitement and worry are the most common emotions, often occurring simultaneously in the same child or parent. The reason for these emotions are both present and future oriented. In the present moment, change always brings swings of emotions. Looking to the future, both the child and the parent know that going “back” to school actually means going “forward.” Both the child and the parent know that things will never be quite the same again.
The Washington Post collected a few comments from children regarding what they were feeling as they headed back to school this year:
“I have mixed feelings about my first year in middle school. I'm excited for the novelty of switching classes, but (though this may sound juvenile) I am going to miss my 15-minute recess, because it was always a nice break from the monotonous school day.” Zachary Stevenson, age 11
“When I go back to school, I like to shop for school supplies. Sharp pencils and clean notebooks make me feel like a new person. I dread to hear how big I've gotten. Growing up is too scary. But I love having harder assignments. I like to take on new challenges.” Abigail Clark, age 9
“I am so scared, because I don't know what it's going to be like in kindergarten. I won't see my Mom when I am at kindergarten. I want my Mom to hug me a lot when I come home after school. I want to hug my Mom a lot, too.” Brian Mason, age 5.
“I am excited for third grade, because there will be fun art and crafts, movies, popsicles and popcorn. I hope I will have more field trips in third grade. I wish to study more interesting insects, such as ladybugs. Maybe this year we're going to study dead skeletons. Cool, I can't wait! I think third grade is going to rock!” Cassie Zhang, age 8
“It's that time again, when the first bell of the school year rings, symbolizing new beginnings and an awakening of knowledge. For me, it's the start of middle school, and that means changes — lockers, associating with older kids, switching classes, independence and increased homework. There may be drama and conflict, and my goal is to avoid that, work hard and embrace all that school offers.” Caroline Kloster, age 11
These children capture the range of emotions that accompany going back to school. Caroline Kloster, who is only 11, actually speaks for parents as well when says that she hopes that drama and conflict can be avoided. And to paraphrase again the words of Caroline Kloster, the best way to avoid drama and conflict with dealing with any major transition in life is to work hard and embrace all that the transition offers.
Children and teens are not the only ones going back to school this time of year. Parents also go back to school once again as they learn anew what this next stage of life looks like, both for their child and for themselves. The text book for what the parents are learning is life itself, and their teachers are grandparents, siblings, friends and other parents. Abigail Clark, one of the children quoted above, is looking forward to “harder assignments” this year. Year by year, as children seek more independence, the parent's assignment of letting go gets a little harder. That's why it's so important to have the support of others, and “to work hard and embrace all” that the transition offers.
We at the Samaritan Family Wellness Foundation send our prayers and blessings to all children of all ages, along with their parents, as they go back to school again this year.
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