A Different Back to School List
Back to school is back. Again.
I started to think of all the ways to prepare for the new school year, and I quickly realized that the typical checklist was not what we needed to hear this year.
I listed all the things that have been said on hundreds, actually thousands of blogs. Sure, I could add my own twist, but I trust that you already know most of these tips and probably implement many of them into your own family routine.
Suggestions that go something like this:
Organize: clothes, food, supplies, home
Plan homework time
Do your best to not over schedule
Plan your meals
Create a family calendar
Develop routine for mornings
Get proper sleep, for everyone involved
Checklists and checklists for your checklists
And yes, I agree, all of these will help you.
With that being said, I would love to offer a new tip for preparing for back to school:
Focus on what our children want the most: To feel heard, acknowledged, validated, and to know that they matter.
It all boils down to one thing: Authentic communication.
How do we prepare to communicate authentically?
Well, the answer recently came to me from a group of high school students enrolled in a child development class. I was asked by a dear friend to come into her class and test out a new game I developed for families focusing on communication and connection between parent and child. It was initially targeted for children 3-12 years old.
The opportunity to test the game out with high school students was terrifying for me. Would they think it was stupid? Would they even participate? Would I be transported back to my own high school years and be bullied and ridiculed by these students? I was scared. And I did it anyway.
I had a heart to heart talk with the students before I introduced the game. I let them know my own story about my experience in high school, how I was bullied, and made fun of every day, every year.
I went on to explain how I created a successful preschool at 21 years old, opened a wellness center at 29 years old, and founded my current company shortly thereafter. I explained how my classmates that made fun of me had not experienced much success in life both personally and professionally. I reminded them of their greatness and that high school is just a moment in time, it doesn’t define you.
Once I gained a rapport with the students, I felt comfortable to share my creation with them. Again, I was incredibly nervous. I’ve been lectured many times how “mean” teenagers can be.
As I passed out the games, my heart was beating through my chest. My cheeks were bright red, but I was doing my best to stay cool!
The students started playing the games in groups of two and three.
Something beautiful began to unfold. They were laughing, smiling, some were even crying. I walked around to listen in and really hear their feedback, authentic, genuine feedback.
I heard communication. I felt connection. I felt a cohesiveness in the classroom that was priceless.
Then the moment came when I went to the front of the classroom and asked the question that scared me the most, “So what do you guys think?”
I’ll never forget the young lady who courageously to raised her hand. She said words that will forever ring in my heart. She said, “I wish my mom and dad would play this game with me.”
I wanted to clarify, “Oh, you mean when you were a little kid?”
She said, “No, now. I wish my parents would talk to me about something that actually matters.”
She went on to explain how her parents often ask how her day was, if she had any homework, how she did on a test, and if she completed all her chores.
I realized that we often look outside of ourselves to make sure everything on the checklist is completed. I do this with my work, my employees, my spouse, and even my own child.
What we really want is authentic communication and connection. We want to know that there is more to life and specifically our own life than a checklist has to offer.
I realize the value and importance in the list. It is necessary to stay on track, especially with our busy families. The checklist has its place. So keep it if it is serving you. Let’s just keep it out of our meaningful, heartfelt connecting moments.
In preparation for back to school this year let’s vow to create the space to connect. To authentically communicate.
Heart to heart.
What does it look like to authentically communicate?
Put down the phone and be there, 100%, for the connection to take place. When you feel the urge to ask a homework question, stop. Instead, ask a question that has your child reflect inside and reveal what our wise teen suggested, “something that actually matters.”
Here are a few that we’ve tested and were received with big smiles:
What made your heart pound today?
Was there a moment when you thought the day couldn’t get any better?
Was there a moment when you thought the day couldn’t get any worse?
Did you witness an act of bravery or an act of courage?
What was your biggest challenge today?
What was your biggest achievement today?
If you could do any part of the day over again, what would it be?
Tell me about a proud moment you experienced today.
I missed you today because…
I learned a huge lesson during that beta-test with those teenagers: Don’t buy into the stereotype about teens that has been sold for years. Believe in their greatness. They’re pretty amazing and have quite a bit of wisdom to offer. Especially when we ask the questions that inspire them to share their wisdom in a safe place of love and judgment free zone.
We also had the privilege to test out the game with our target market and it was magical! There were so many insights and wise moments. I’ll be sharing more with you over the next few blogs. This works with all ages and in all relationships.
Back to school is a time for new beginnings. New adventures. New friends. New challenges. New lessons. New disappointments. New achievements. New moments that will forever shape who we are in this world.
Let’s be prepared.
Prepare your questions. Prepare your energy to be open, aware, loving, and supportive.
Prepare to be amazed and in awe of your child and the wisdom they have to share.
Prepare to love yourself for taking the time and energy to connect in a heart space with your child.
Keep the checklists in your mind and have the conversations from your heart.
You are WiseInside.