It's Back to School time! You can feel it in the air. You can see it on social media. You can see it in the stores. It's everywhere!
With every back to school season I start prepping my kids with school supplies, new clothes, new backpacks and making sure they're completely stocked up on everything they need. I sit down with them and organize their planner and walk through their new schedule with them, too. I make sure they've done their summer reading and filled out all the appropriate paperwork. I even do a dry run of the bus route, just so everyone is onboard with what stop they are for the new year. As their mom I try to do the best I can to fill in all the blanks for the new year ahead. I'm part of this back to school prep right there with them because I want them to feel prepared and ready for a successful new year.
But I'm also giving them ONE gigantic piece of advice for back to school - seek out the new kids and make them feel welcome.
My 5 kids were the new kids last year. We moved into in a new town where they were starting at a new school only knowing a handful of people. It was daunting. It was scary. It was nerve-racking. As I sent them off to school on their first day I burst into tears because I was filled with anxiety, but I had been trying to hide it from them for weeks. I kept having this image of the movie "Can't Buy Me Love" where Patrick Dempsey's character eats lunch all by himself by a tree! I can laugh now, but I just kept saying to myself... "Please don't make that be my kids! Please make someone reach out and welcome them in."
And each of them had a group of friends that did. And those kids will forever hold a special place in my heart.
It's not easy entering a new school year being the new kid.
It's not easy walking into a school where the majority of kids have been together since kindergarten.
It's not easy trying to feel part of a school when you know you're not part of it yet.
I know there are families everywhere right now like I was last year at this time. I remember that feeling of just wanting my kids to feel welcomed. I remember that feeling of just wanting my kids to be accepted... even if it was just by 1 kid on that first day. I remember just wanting my kids to get off the school bus on the first day with a smile, not with tears building up in their eyes.
We got lucky.
And so this is the advice I'm giving my sons this year. If you see a new student at school, go over and say hello and welcome them right on in. They are experiencing something on the first day and the first week that isn't easy.
I told my sons to make sure they offer a seat at lunch.
I told my sons to give a helping hand with the layout of the school.
I told my sons to give a seat up in class if someone needs it.
I told my sons to help with lockers and schedules and hot lunch.
I told my sons to make sure they do a simple introduction.
All of these things add up and they make a new student feel good, feel welcomed, feel part of something. It makes Day 2 and Day 3 and Day 4 that much easier on a new student.
I'll never forget getting a text from my 12 year old son Alex last year as he took off on the school bus. He texted me, "You'll be home all day, right? Just in case I need you." He knew ONE kid in a class of about 300 as he embarked on his 6th grade year. He's my social butterfly guy, so to get that text made my heart ache.
But here's the thing... that ONE boy introduced him to about 12 new kids. And those 12 new kids introduced him to 12 more. At the end of the 1st week of school Alex already had a pack of buddies.
It just took ONE kid. I'm tearing up just typing this.
Make sure your child is that ONE kid. Not just on the first day of school, but throughout the year, too.