At the start of a new school year, our kids experience a mixture of anxiety and excitement. My daughter is just starting high school: a new school, new routines, new friends. My son experienced his last first day of school. He’ll be graduating in June.
Many adults still feel a touch of that September anxiety long after finishing school. In the spring, the recently graduated can still get some exam anxiety – without the exams.
But most of us aren’t reentering that annual cycle of revising our schedules, choosing our courses and beginning new extra-curricular activities. Maybe we should.
At her new school, my daughter is making new friends. Over time, she will get to know them much better. A few may become lifelong friends. Getting to know one another and growing in the depth and breadth of our relationships is a big part of the learning at school . . . and in life. As adults, we can take this for granted and as with much the rest of our lives, fall into the unexamined routine.
As our children, sign up for new clubs and try out for teams, I take the time to reflect on how I’ve chosen to occupy my “extracurricular” hours. What should I do more? What should I do less? Which activities reflect my priorities and values? Which are wastes of precious family time?
With their return to school, our children continue building upon a growing foundation of knowledge and life skills. They recognize that they are travelling along the long road towards mastery.
The journey of course doesn’t end with graduation. Yet for us adults without the external prompts of daily classes, exams, papers and projects, we can get stuck in unproductive, unstimulating and often unhealthy routine.
So as you slow down in driving and watch out for kids in school zones, reflect on your daily routine, your own curriculum, your relationships and your health. What big or small changes might you need?
Though self-change does not come overnight, you can begin a change at any time.