How to Deal with School Daze
By Debbie Mandel
Although the weather is hot and steamy, it is almost back to school and in many locales, classes are already in session. Just the thought of lunch preparation, after-school enrichment activities, homework supervision and report cards make us get a sinking feeling in the pit of our stomachs. Not just because we are involved or overextended as responsible parents, but also because we remember how our own lazy days of a carefree summer just slipped away and then back to school we marched: a loss of innocence.
Often a mediocre or failing grade is internalized with silent acceptance. As the song goes, “The first cut(s) is the deepest.” These childhood marks can impede our spiritual development, our creativity and our self-expression. Many of us walk around today thinking that we are not good in science, math or writing, or that we are simply not good enough.
However, did you ever think about turning a failure into a success? Teachers, principals, guidance counselors are approachable. College professors have office hours. If a student failed or did not perform up to his or her expectations on a term paper or exam, then a meeting with the teacher can open up a new world. Some will allow the student to rewrite the paper or retake the test for learning mastery. If not, perhaps an extra-credit project can be added. In the worst case scenario, the student will learn how to succeed next time and can practice fortifying his weakest link. With the right mentor students can sprout and bloom and do amazing things. The personal touch helps to direct us.
We need to change our perception of school for our sake as well as our children’s. The grading process can be demystified; children can reach higher and still be satisfied with small accomplishments, provided that we cooperate and affirm their efforts. I remember reading an anecdote by Anthony De Mello where a child wished for the lead in the school play. He practiced at home for countless hours. On the day of the tryouts his mother was anxiously awaiting his return from school. He burst through the door smiling. She figured that he had succeeded. “What happened? Did you get a part?” She asked. “I was selected to clap and cheer.” We can all learn from this boy’s attitude as well as the teacher’s sensitivity.
Start to imagine school as a fluid, adaptable environment where learning is fun and achievable. Explain to your children that learning takes place all around us and that everyone could potentially be our teachers, including other children. Let them also know that you are constantly learning from them.
Here are some suggestions to take the sting out of school transforming school daze into astonishing days.
- Make it easy for children to confide in you. Avoid casting blame, but instead think about how they will receive your comments.
Make sure to have dinner together with your children. This is a great time to discuss positive things about their day and encourage conversation about what is going on in the world. You will see their self-image and academic accomplishments soar. Nourish them body and soul.
- Put up a poster of a mutually agreed upon inspiration in your child’s room as a key insight and guide.
- Help your child get started and organized with homework. Set up an in-basket where the day’s homework goes and an out-basket where the completed homework is placed.
- Take a child who is stuck in his or her weakest subject on a field trip to observe professionals at work. This will inspire them to see their subject in a bigger context.
- Show your children how to reinterpret a bad day. Help them cultivate a sense of humor. Even better, laugh together. Laughter will raise serotonin levels to help find the solution.
- Encourage your children to be physical: Eat balanced meals and exercise. They will be more alert, retain what they learn and sleep better. We are what we eat. Protein is brain food and complex carbohydrates are feel good foods.
Debbie Mandel, MA is the author of Turn On Your Inner Light: Fitness for Body, Mind and Soul, a stress-reduction specialist, motivational speaker, a personal trainer and mind/body lecturer. She is the host of the weekly Turn On Your Inner Light Show on WGBB AM1240 in New York City , produces a weekly wellness newsletter, and has been featured on radio/ TV and print media. To learn more visit: www.turnonyourinnerlight.com