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Jim's Corner

Making the Most of a New School Year

August 20, 2021

Written by our Founder and CEO, our Celebrations Pulse Sunday Letters aim to engage with our community. From sharing stories to welcoming your ideas, we want to help you to express, connect, and celebrate the important people in your life.

Last year, parents and children alike faced less-than-ideal circumstances. As families worked, learned, and played together while confined to home, many reported falling behind socially, academically, and physically amid limited social interactions, sports practices, and in-person events.

Still, to the extent possible from our homes, the pandemic gave us an opportunity to further our education and personal goals. We all tried to reimagine spaces and places – recognizing that you can still go to many places from your own living room!

The Promise of Returning to School

Dr. Dan Willingham, a member of our Connectivity Council, shared that we tend to think of life in terms of periods of time that we associate with new beginnings or change. Dan fondly remembers feeling energized for all the possibilities each new school year presented, and the significance of back to school as an important milestone in his childhood.

Now, more than ever, back to school is a critical milestone as it represents returning to some sense of normalcy. Last May, about 61% of students were still remote learners. This September will likely be the most meaningful in-person learning that many children have experienced since the pandemic began.

Understandably, this year’s back to school period is being met with anticipation and apprehension from parents and children alike. In response to these concerns, we offer advice on how to make the most of this school year.

Setting Goals

Preparing our kids to go back to school is an excellent time to talk about setting goals. During the pandemic, setting goals kept us on track with remote work and learning. It is certainly something many of us will continue moving forward.

Goal setting teaches self-accountability, facilitates self-improvement, and rewards achievement when we reach important milestones, big or small. Be sure to set goals that are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound, or SMART.

Don’t forget to get out your pen and paper. A study from Dominican University showed that you are 42% more likely to achieve your goals if you just write them down. Sharing your goals with others also serves as a great motivator!

By creating goals together, we can work with our children to imagine what the future might look like and how we can navigate that together as a family. This is something we did during the pandemic that served as a helpful exercise. It’s also a great way to put Dr. Willingham’s advice into action. With introspection, we can gauge the future and put it into practice. We can work with our children to imagine what the future might look like and how we might achieve it.

A Return to Socializing

Many kids are excited about being able to see their friends in person again. Other children may feel out of practice and, understandably, there will be a learning curve when it comes to returning to the classroom and the playground.

Dr. Willingham says that parents should pay special attention to the maturation processes of their children, particularly their social and emotional development. Some kids may want to stick to Zoom calls and text messages. Others may be eager to jump back into pre-lockdown activities, but those activities might now seem young for their age.

We should expect a socialization learning curve as kids head back to the classroom. Parents should take initiative to drive their kids to social activities and pay attention to any misunderstandings between their children and their children’s friends. Being willing to step in to help resolve conflict and offering reassurance can help to ease social anxiety that may arise.

As we head back to work and school, let’s remember the lessons we learned during the pandemic and think about what steps we can take to make the most of this year. Certainly, there are challenges ahead, but these challenges, but these challenges also present tremendous opportunities for growth. 

Let’s Discuss Over Breakfast Together

School isn’t the only thing that’s back; Breakfast at Wolferman’s Bakery is too. On Aug 25 at 11 a.m. ET/8 a.m. PT, our host Francesco Bilotto will be joined by guests Dr. Terri Kurtzberg, author of Negotiating at Home: Essential Steps for Agreement with Your Kids, Amy Palanjian from Yummy Toddler Food, and Wolferman’s Merchandising Manager Lucy Sommer. They’ll speak about parenting, give tips on negotiating with kids, and share a recipe for an easy and tasty back-to-school breakfast.

All the best,

Chris and Jim

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