“Hi Jayden!” said Mrs. B, one of the many teachers on duty that morning. It was the first day of school and everyone outside was anxiously waiting for the bell to ring. Jayden seemed like he was the popular kid with the school staff, as each one waved, or gave him a high five while he walked with his mom to the ever growing sea of children at the door. Jayden wasn’t exactly popular for his academic achievements, but he had a unique spirit and charm about him that made him memorable.
Jayden was diagnosed with an anxiety disorder at the age of four and was also being reassessed to determine where on the autistic spectrum he fell. His fear of the unknown and difficulty with transitions sometimes made it hard for him to cope in the classroom.
Blessed with a great mom and senior kindergarten teacher, they had been rehearsing this day since last year. Both mom and the teacher worked tirelessly to create an easy transition into grade one. From social stories to extra classroom visits, Jayden was equipped with the knowledge he needed to enter a new grade.
I met Jayden last year. He became a regular in my mindful kids program and a playmate for my son. That morning, he greeted me with his usual big hug. I could tell he was nervous. What happened next, I still carry with me to this day. As the children started to file inside the school, Mrs. H, Jayden’s SK teacher, came outside to find him. She bent over and held his little hand and spoke calmly about what he can expect when he enters the school. Her soothing words seemed to comfort him and I could see some of his anxieties melt away with just her presence.
This, I thought to myself, is mindfulness at work. Mrs. H was helping him be in the “now”. She was where he needed her to be in that moment. All children require something that makes them feel secure; Jayden required trust and safety, and that is precisely what Mrs. H had given him over the past year and, more importantly, that morning. After a short conversation and a gentle hug, I watched Jayden march confidently through the “big kid” doors for his first day of grade one. I smiled to myself and thought, “thank goodness she is my son’s teacher.”
The first day of school can be difficult for most kids, parents and school staff. It’s getting back into the hectic schedules of work, school lunches and extracurricular activities that nag at us before we go to bed. The early morning routine returns and it’s our job to get our children out the door in a healthy and happy state of being. The best thing we can do for our children is to stop and breathe. Being mindful about how our mornings begin, sometimes determines how the rest of day will unfold for everyone.
We need to help our children live in the moment. Sometimes that requires us to acknowledge their fears and help explain the unexpected. We all struggle with change and our kids are no different. Talk to them about their new teachers, friends in their classroom and activities to play outside – so they can enjoy that back to school moment.
Sheena Bounsanga is a registered reflexologist and Reiki practicioner. She is the founder and owner of Blue Bamboo Holistics (blue-bamboo.ca), where she teaches meditation and relaxation to kids.
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