20 Day Challenge Day 19 – Lessons from First Day of School

in Change, Education, Reflections

It’s the first day of school in Austin. It’s a big day in our house because our littlest is starting kindergarten and both children will be together at our neighborhood elementary school.

The first day of school is always chaotic. Twice as many parents are on campus to see their little ones off, friends reunite after many weeks apart, and new teachers try to establish the foundation for the year for a new cohort of students.

Today reminded me of the challenge of change and transitions and how different people handle new situations. Consider my two children this morning.

My daughter is an adventurer. She takes new experiences like an opportunity. I pulled up the picture from when she started kindergarten and she just had this comfort and confidence. Whether it’s a new camp or a new school year, she’s more excited than nervous and jumps in with both feet. She usually tells us we can go before we’re even ready or have said goodbye.

My son is different. He needs to warm up to new people and situations. He likes safety and needs to build up confidence before he jumps in. Once he knows the people and the environment, he blossoms and has a blast. This morning you could feel his nervousness build as we made our way to his classroom. At the entryway, he clutched Gwen with a bear hug. He didn’t lose it, but you could see the despair in his face. New school, new classroom, new teacher, and new kids. He was scared and resistant and it was hard to hand him over and walk away. I’m sure he was fine 10 minutes after we left

When it comes to change and new things, we need to appreciate people begin with varying degrees of comfort and may need different steps and timelines to build confidence. If you support them where they are and continue to build confidence and will, they will get there. Those first days (or weeks) may require a little extra care and hugs. Don’t be afraid to slow down a minute so you can go fast later.

I predict my daughter will be manic when I pick her up this afternon and will report today was the best day ever and she has the best teacher ever. She will be more than ready to return tomorrow.

My son on the other hand will be tired (no naps) and a little clingy. He’ll also share excitement about the day’s adventures at the big boy school, but he’ll be sensitive for a few mornings before he settles in. It’s okay.

We all survived elementary school and my son will too. Plus, I understand it’s where we learn key life lessons that are important for our survival. Here’s a partial list from the poem by Robert Fulgham.

  • Share everything.
  • Play fair.
  • Don’t hit people.
  • Put things back where you found them.
  • Clean up your own mess.
  • Don’t take things that aren’t yours.
  • Say you’re sorry when you hurt somebody.
  • Wash your hands before you eat.
  • Flush.
  • Warm cookies and cold milk are good for you.
  • Live a balanced life – learn some and think some and draw and paint and sing and dance and play and work every day some.
  • Take a nap every afternoon.
  • When you go out in the world, watch out for traffic, hold hands and stick together.
  • Be aware of wonder. Remember the little seed in the Styrofoam cup: the roots go down and the plant goes up and nobody really knows how or why, but we are all like that.
  • Goldfish and hamsters and white mice and even the little seed in the Styrofoam cup – they all die. So do we.
  • And then remember the Dick-and-Jane books and the first word you learned – the biggest word of all – LOOK.

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PDSA Time 20 min

PDSA Learning

You will note there were no posts for day 17 and 18. I was traveling home to Austin with my family last Thursday and had the children home Friday for their last day of summer. While I aspired to never miss a day, I’ve learned through this process that sometimes things don’t allow for me to post without taking away from my time or family time. As I mentioned before, this was a 20 day challenge to do it every day, but going forward, I will reduce to just once or twice a week. Tomorrow, I plan to a summary for the 20 day challenge. Stay tuned.