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Challenge: Back to School 2020

Whether Virtual or F2F, The First Day of School is a Day Worth Remembering

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When the ball dropped on January 1, 2020, I don’t think any of us could have imagined that just two months into the year, there would be a worldwide pandemic that force many of us out of our comfort zones, while leaving others left wondering what is next?

There are certain big events in everyone’s life that we take the time to really celebrate and even get others involved so create spectacle and ceremony for the commemoration of that event. Marriages are the perfect example of a huge life event that is so important in the life of those involved and in the life of the family and the community.

Days like this almost always mark a transition from one phase of life to the next phase. Graduations from high school or college are celebrated with great joy because they take a young person into the next big step of maturity and responsibility. The celebration and the spectacle that we build around these big events help the one going through the transition make that jump and start this new exciting phase of life with enthusiasm and the blessing of the ones that love them.

For our newest one starting, the longing for the celebration and spectacle, that we made with our older children didn’t happen-at least not the way that we envisioned.

I feel like I have waited years for Sarah to finally start kindergarten. For me it signifies that this is the end of babyhood and infancy and the beginning of childhood for my little girl. Even though she will always be my baby, it’s a moment that she, my husband and myself have been eagerly awaiting.

They say that anticipation is 90% of the fun of any big day. Even though we were mentally prepared ourselves to start virtual schooling, Sarah was not. Nor did we expect a five year old to understand why she can go visit her new school, teacher, and meet the children in her class in person, yet she has to do her schoolwork at home.

As we got closer to the first day of school I knew that it was possible for there to be some “let down” about her kindergarten experience. Not just for her, but us as well. Being the fourth of five children, her older siblings have spent the last year and a half “hyping” up kindergarten, and with good reason. Now that she is unable to experience what they did, she feels left out.

Making Virtual Lemonade

As disappointed as she was, we wanted to try our best to make #BacktoSchool2020 as exciting for her as possible, even if she was having to start on the computer.

Keeping in mind that we are five hours away from family, we decided to have a socially distant “Welcome to Kindergarten” party for her with family. It wasn’t lavish, but it was a enough to where she was able to see how special this time still is, and that her family will be right there with her for support.

If you have a child who is anxious about starting virtual or even F2F, get as many of the child’s loved ones in on the act as you can. Not only should you plan to bring in her friends and siblings but cousins, aunts and uncles and grandpa and grandma if that’s possible to all congratulate the child in advance on the big adventure she is about to set out upon. Children universally love a party, especially if it is in their honor.

It is entirely appropriate also for there to be some somber moments for all of you. Sarah loved how we talked about her first steps or her first words, and when my husband gave a mini speech about how proud he was of his baby girl. So we may have gone a bit overboard, but if 2020 has shown us anything, it’s make sure we give everyone their flowers while we can.

To a lot of people it’s just kindergarten. It’s not their senior year, first day of college, or medical school. But to those five and six year olds, its the beginning of the journey for them. So they are allowed to be sad, and so are we.

No matter how the school year starts out, it’s important to do our part to make it special for them, as much as we can. With simple reminders that “this too shall pass.”

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