I know that many of us can’t wait for the school year to be over. This school year goes down in the books as one that we will definitely remember, but really wish we didn’t have to go through. I’ve talked on our social media posts about how I was thankful that my son was in preschool, and therefore, had a little more freedom and ease in continuing his education. Next year I will not be as lucky as he will be entering Kindergarten. My head is already swimming with questions and we are not even truly into the summer months yet!
Months ago, I was filling out registration paperwork, looking at school uniforms, going to open houses, and my son’s godmother already purchased his backpack for him as a birthday present. It’s Spiderman. He also has a Superman lunchbox. They are adorable.
Now, I have spent the past three months doing remote learning with my son and teaching full time online, and managing it pretty well. My head is still above water. Thinking about trying to navigate school for my son in the fall if schools are virtual even part-time and how that will work is starting to bring up some anxieties, as I know it is for my other friends who went through this experience already. Not to mention that this is Kindergarten, the big first school experience for my son, and I was already anxious about how it would be for him. I was worried if he would like it, if he would have a hard time transitioning, would he be ok that first day when I dropped him off, would he be able to relax and show his teacher what an amazing and smart little boy he is? I know my son is anxious about it, too, because he has talked to my husband and I about it.
I know that I can’t change what has happened and I have no control over what will be, so I just need to prepare myself to be a strong support and guide for my son and show him that we can handle anything. We will simply talk about “the Bug”, as he calls it, and how we need to do things a little differently at school to keep everyone safe and healthy.
Funny thing is that we were just practicing “going to school” the other day. We were making a video to highlight an amazing product, The Relax Pack, and we were pretending that it was the first day of school. The scene was my son was getting ready to leave and go on the bus. We did the whole bit, from me coming down the stairs, to helping him get his backpack on, to hugging and waving goodbye. We practiced about 4-5 times because “someone” wanted to keep practicing, and had all kinds of ideas of what we should do and say. I think he may have a future in being a director someday. The thing was, that even though we were pretending, it was actually really calming and comforting for us both, as the more we practiced and acted out the good bye’s, the easier they became.
Here’s the interesting part. When we were trying on and modeling the RelaxPack, which has this amazing Hug Belt that wraps around your child’s waist and gives a hug, gives that right amount of proprioceptive support, that my son just absolutely loved it. He thought it was so cool! It was the first time he had tried it on, and he could tell me if he needed it tighter, and he loved that it hugged him and gave him that input. The Relax Pack comes with fidget strips and a chewie that can be changed out, and he loved those as well. He had the sequins and the tassel fidget strips, which gave great visual and tactile input. As we were trying it on, he asked if he could have this for his own backpack. I really think it made a difference for him and gave him a sense of calmness as we were practicing something that makes him a little anxious.
With everything going on, we need all the help we can get and I’m sure that if our children return to school even part time in the fall, there will be plenty of nervousness and anxiety among them. If I could do anything to help relieve some of that for my child, I’m going to. If that means that for the trip out the door and the time traveling to school wearing The Relax Pack helps him stay calm and eases some of his worrisome thoughts, then I’m making that happen. No matter we use, as parents we need to realize that those little brains have big worries, and we need to be ready to help them overcome the anxieties so that they still learn and be happy and healthy.
The Relax Pack was created by pediatric occupational therapist Aparna Guttery. You can purchase the backpack at https://twosparrowsls.com/products/relaxpack-backpack.