Journeys Begin in September

By Aaron Cooper

The back-to-school season is a time of new beginnings.  Any challenges or obstacles that students or families faced in the old school year have been washed away and the slate is clean. September is indeed a chance to start again.

Maybe this year your child will get that A in math, or you will finally be able to hustle everyone out of the door on time consistently, with cleats, lunch and homework in hand. Maybe this year, you’ll prepare your questions for the parent-teacher conference ahead of time, and your student will master that tricky piece on the violin.

One of the things that I have noticed in my many years as an educator is that families can get so consumed by the quest for improvement (both self-improvement and improving our children), that they don’t appreciate that the road ahead, with all of its minor bumps and major potholes, is teaching our children important skills that they will need in their journey to become fully formed adults.  Rather than wish for a “great” year with many unquestioned successes for our children, perhaps we should be hoping for a year that presents challenges that are not easily, but are eventually, surmountable and obstacles turn out to be great opportunities for learning new skills and forging new paths.

So this school year, I challenge you to appreciate the great grade and the great effort. To admire your child’s dedication to practicing an instrument or sport, and the goal scored or pieces polished. And, while you’re at it, you may even want to ease up on any unrealistic expectations about taming the morning routine!

As parents we want to make sure that our children have every opportunity to learn, grow and achieve. Too often, especially at this time of year, parenting comes with added stress and pressure, and a sinking feeling that it’s getting harder and harder to measure up to societal or school expectations.

Speaking as a head of school, let me assure you that I believe that students are works in progress and that there is nothing that teachers enjoy seeing more than children having aha moments in the classroom.  We don’t expect them (or you) to have it all figured out when you come in September, or, for that matter, when you leave again in June. We expect the struggle, and we expect to be right there with your students as they go through it, knowing that what emerges on the other side is that much stronger for the experience. So, welcome the new year with open arms and just lean into whatever is going to happen. I guarantee you that the best is yet to come.