In Time of Change…
This week summer officially ends and fall begins. For my family and I it is the first time in two years we will experience fall and the changing of seasons. You see in Quito, Ecuador it is spring year round. Most people think Ecuador, which means equator in English, means hot, but actually in Quito (in the Andes) we lived so high up at 9,500 feet that even on the equator it would get quite chilly. Most days are sunny and cool though, you did need to be aware of the sun, but mostly it was Spring year round with a bit of rain in the afternoon.
Here in Livingston, last week we experienced a dramatic change from 90 to 38 degrees in a matter of days with even predictions of snow. The rain came and with that the cold a reminder of so much change. For me never experiencing the winter of Montana, it is going to be a big change. For most around here, they are ready for it but still apprehensive. Gone are the days of summer, ahead fall awaits.
For parents, this time can be hard, getting back to the swing of things, into a routine, including bedtime and fitting in new activities like sports. It is very common this time of year to see our children tired, hungry, and acting out because of all the change they are experiencing.
For educators, this time is hard. Gone are the first weeks of the “honeymoon” when all of us are raring to go and on our best behaviors, and here to stay come the little unique personalities and the student behaviors. Along with trying to help and support all these behaviors comes our own pressures of knowing where these students are now and how far we need to go to find success. We have forgotten the feeling of great growth from the spring and also have our own set of emotions around change. Just like summer ending, turning to fall, the school year beginning means time for hard work. Effective teachers know that relationships are at the heart of all good growth and so are good research based practices. There’s a lot of pressure- to fit it all in. There is pressure to be this type of parent or this type of educator.
So what do we do? And especially what do we do in time of change?
A lot of research is now pointing to the idea of "mindfulness". Mindfulness means enjoying the moment. It means not worrying about the past or the future, but really being present. The research is telling us the more mindful a person is the more regulated emotionally and able to make rational decisions. They often are more successful with relationships and because of this have more success in life as well. Isn't this what we want for our children as well?
And for us?
This is of course is easier said than done for us busy parents and hardworking educators and for our students.
At Winans this year we are working hard to become more mindful educators and create more mindful students. We'd love you to join us in this learning journey.
We will begin a Parent Book Club beginning next Tuesday, September 26, from 6-7 in the Library. We will be reading "Mindful Parenting" by Kristen Race, Ph. D. Please order it if you can and come join us for discussion. We will continue this book club the last Tuesday of every month.
A good friend told me once, "Change is almost always hard, but almost always good."
I truly believe this and when I look back on my life I see it. It has been hard moving back from Ecuador to Montana. I miss our adventures and our friends. But there is so much good moving here, as well. For one thing we now get to celebrate Fall!
I'm reminded that change is not an overnight thing. Change is a process. One day you might be okay with the rain, the next you are just craving one last day floating on the river. And all of it’s okay.
Some of us embrace the change, others hold on tight to what they knew. It is not easy to let go and become open minded. It is much easier to stay in our comfort zone and do what we've always done. Except then how do we grow? And more importantly, how do we help our children grow? Just like we challenge our children to take risks, we must. Just like we ask our children to slow down, be present, and be mindful. We must. Especially in the times of change, whether it is the beginning of the school year, the weather, the seasons, the life circumstances, we can be mindful. Happy Fall!