Back to School — Balance and New Beginnings in Fall 2021

Greetings!

In my office, we’re going back to our school year schedule today…and we have the school year buzz…When I started to draft this newsletter, I wanted to offer back-to-school strategies that could be used to help students ease the transition in a post-pandemic school year, but it doesn’t seem as though we are post– anything yet.

I was doing a back-to-school organizational workshop with a student and we got to the question about identifying the stressors in her life. #3? The state of the world.

She’s a thoughtful, reflective, introspective young person, and we talked about finding ways to filter her news and media consumption so she didn’t feel constantly bombarded with devastating news.

In my most recent book, Social Media Wellness, I discuss the concept of filtering in and filtering out, and curating our feed as a way of supporting our social and emotional wellness, along with our personal growth and development.

The concept of filtering-in and out and curating our feed is the way to look at this upcoming school year as well, especially as it relates to school work, friends and activities (as well as good old fashioned state of the world news)… Rushing back to the pre-March, 2020 ways of doing anything doesn’t seem to fit.

Some open-ended questions that can provide conversation starters to think about this strategy of filtering in and out (works for adults as well as kids!):

1. School – How have daily habits changed since March 2020? What adaptations can be made to return to school in its current form (hybrid, in-person)? How can you best manage distractions or diversions? Are there new subjects of personal interest and new topics to explore? What adjustments can you make to your news feed so you feel adequately informed without feeling overwhelmed?

2. Social Life – How have friendships changed or evolved since March 2020? Do you feel more or less connected to classmates, family members and/or community members since March 2020? Are there any individuals or communities that you’d like to get back in touch with?

3. Activities and Hobbies – How do you enjoy spending your free time (activities, hobbies, etc)? Has that shifted or changed – for instance, are certain activities no longer of much interest, and others of more interest? Do you have time daily/weekly/monthly to pursue those interests, and make them a priority?

4. Outdoors – Over the past eighteen months, have you spent more or less time outdoors (many people tell me more!). What are ways to recalibrate in nature given where you live? Perhaps spending time in a hammock, taking a walk or sitting by the water… How can you build in regular time to recalibrate with ease?

5. Independent Project or Collaboration – What is a way you could develop your skills around a personal interest (for instance, over the past year I’ve had the greatest conversations with middle and high school students about exploring their own personal interests – we’ve talked about music production, game design, painting, entrepreneurship etc). An independent project or collaboration isn’t meant to create an additional to-do list – instead, it is meant to provide an opportunity for exploration.

It’s been great to meet with students once again, and to start visiting schools and corporations, doing virtual (and a few in-person) events and workshops.

If your school or organization would like to host a visit to talk about promoting executive functioning skills and student well-being in today’s school world, navigating social media and technology, or overcoming the culture of perfectionism (and related topics!), please feel free to be in touch with my office.

Wishing you and your loved ones the best possible school year ahead – filled with brightly colored sharpened pencils, written planners, and technological devices that work with ease.

Warm regards,

Ana

PS! INSTAGRAM LIVE … yes, I am going to do it, a year after I said I would… I am trying something new (for me!) and will be answering questions on Instagram Live once a week… follow @anahomayoun and @greenivyed for details.

Other links of interest:

In defense of our teachers (the Atlantic)

This is really scary’- the long haul of COVID (NYTimes)

We are going to heal together: Bay Area schools brace for pandemic scarred students (SF Chronicle)

The kindergarten exodus (NYTimes) *this will have an impact on years to come

College was supposed to wealth gap for Black Americans – it didn’t happen (WSJ)

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