I almost hate to say this, because I’ve had so much fun writing about the benefits of giving kids freedom during the summer, but school is starting up again! What I’d like to offer is a roadmap to keeping the creativity, wellness, imagination and play of summer with us throughout the school year.
For starters, I think it’s important to not take school too seriously.
Don’t get me wrong. As someone who has more degrees then I always know what to do with, I recognize the value of education. But I also think that it’s easy for parents and kids to get caught up in the pressure cooker of achievement—to start to think that academic success is a necessary prerequisite to happiness and a good life.
That’s a load that weighs more heavily on kids from this generation than those from generations past. Kids are expected to fill their days with classes and extracurriculars and sports and then head home for hours of homework every night. All of this is meant to help kids grow and develop and stand out, but I think what falls by the wayside is play and creativity and learning to just be. These are equally if not more important. What is all the hard work for, if we don’t learn to enjoy being alive?
School can be a great opportunity to practice balancing responsibility with letting go and staying present.
That’s something most of us need to learn, after all. Rather than look at school as simply about academics, we can help our kids by teaching them to use the experience as practice for the art of living. Kids can learn to uphold their responsibilities, but to relax while doing so, and understand that focusing on the process rather than the outcome leads to more happiness. Almost none of us end up going to Harvard and Yale, and that’s okay!
I’d also suggest some practical tips for back to school success.
Don’t overburden your kids—literally! Loaded backpacks shouldn’t weigh more than ten percent of your child’s body weight—any more and they can suffer injuries to their spine. Kids also need to get enough sleep. Although this can be very difficult with early school start times, nothing is more important to their health as they grow. Kids spend most of the school day sitting in place, so getting a chance to move is critical.
Especially for kids who play sports, I’d also suggest getting them a chiropractic adjustment. Any misalignments in the spine or elsewhere in the body create stresses on the body that make injuries more likely. Preventative chiropractic care can pay off down the road.
Here’s to a great year!