With back to school in full swing, we tend to get so focused on sharpened pencils, snazzy backpacks, and squeaky new sneakers. And yet, we all know deep down that the things our children really need can’t be bought at a store.
So put away your checkbooks and credit cards and Apple Pay, ladies and gentlemen, and turn on your listening ears! Lean in close. What are your child’s fears? Her hopes? His questions? You have the honor of preparing your children for their first, and their second, and their fifth, and their twenty-fifth day of school.
The following list may not be all nice and neat and ready to go, hanging on the hook by the back door, on Day One. And that’s okay. But as you commit to the success of your child, as you listen and encourage her, one by one you’ll be able to check off this mental list and say, “She’s got this.”
Sparkle Supply List for Back-to-School
Courage in Facing the Unexpected
In our Back-to-School stories, many of our characters are asked to face new situations, and this has made them a bit uneasy. For instance, in “Teeny the Toadlet,” Teeny is headed toward his very first day of school. Teeny’s mama helps him by reassuring him that he is not alone, telling him stories of others who have made the same transition, and reminding him that he will now have friends in two places, at school and in his own familiar pond.
Children can often enter new situations at school wondering if they will be liked or if they will be as “good at doing things” as other children. In “Zebra Stripes,” Clancy expresses these very fears, until a pack of zebras help him to see and celebrate his own delightful uniqueness.
Curiosity is one of the magic keys to so many things, helping to sooth fear and self-judgment. A curious person is more apt to see new experiences as adventures, versus transitions to be feared, like Mr. Salamander teaches Cami in the story “Mr. Salamander.”
A Sense of Belonging
It is a basic need to know that we belong — that there is a place for us — and that we are welcome and wanted. In “The Schoolmaster,” Micajah has just landed in a new schoolroom, and he feels quite out-of-place. The teacher, Master Simon, uses a magical geography lesson to show Micajah and the other students that they are more alike than they are different and through this creates a belonging that pervades the whole class.
Isn’t it true that we send our children to school to foster a love of learning, and yet we also desperately want them to develop a love for people as well? All four of our best back-to-school stories demonstrate the power of kindness and teach children that when they feel small and afraid, being kind and generous to another is often the best antidote.
About the Authors
Meredith has been working with adults and children of all ages for the past 25 years as a Waldorf Teacher and Educational Consultant. She received a B.A. with a focus on child development and child psychology from the University of Michigan, in 1984, an M.A. Ed from Washington University in 1987, and her Waldorf Teaching Certificate from the Lehrerausbildung (Teacher Training) in Nurnberg, Germany in 1989. She was certified as a Living Inquiries Facilitator in 2014, and she completed her formal teaching certification with The Enneagram Institute in 2014. Her work in the classroom and with individuals and groups is designed to help people of all ages to drop self-limiting beliefs to live a more joyful and compassionate life.
A native Texan, Erin lives in Austin with her college-sweetheart husband and three kids. She loves to travel, and her time spent living abroad in Spain and Chile ignited her passion for cultural exchange and foreign language. She homeschools her children in collaboration with a sweet little classical, university-model school. She has a revolving front door (not literally, but you get the idea) and will always say yes to a day on the lake.