Heading back to school can be a tough transition for kids and their parents. Summer seems to halt abruptly with the pressure to get school supplies, fill out forms, attend orientations, and so on. Students, on some level, may be happy to get back to class and see friends after so many weeks of free time.
However, back-to-school time may also create some anxiety for students who are facing unknown teachers, schedules, classmates, and academic challenges. This is especially true for younger grades who aren’t as seasoned at seeing summer end.
The new school year can be an anxious time for parents as well, who also face unknowns such as potential homework issues, friendship struggles, and other unforeseen challenges for their kids. It can be a helpless feeling for parents of all grade-level kids as the first day of school gets closer.
The good news is that by focusing on all the learning and positive changes that will take place in the upcoming school year, the back-to-school transition can be much less worrisome for parents and students. One way of making the hopes and worries of a new school year both tangible and manageable is to create a back-to-school “time capsule.”
The purpose of a time capsule is usually to put an assortment of small, meaningful items into a container to be opened in the future. Heading back to school means a new future in many ways. Therefore, parents can help their kids put together a time capsule of meaningful items at the start of the school year to be opened at the end. This will be a tangible way for students to see their progress and the challenges they’ve overcome.
Kids of all ages can decorate a box or other container to be used as the time capsule. Parents can help make decisions about which small items might be meaningful to put inside. Young students can draw pictures of what they hope will be great about the upcoming school year or something that worries them. Older students can write a letter about their hopes and worries for the school year, put “before” pictures of themselves in the capsules, or even create a list of their favorite music, movies, and books to compare at the end of the school year.
Surprisingly, the school year may go by so quickly that it’s summer soon again. Both parents and their students may forget all about the time capsule and miss the opportunity of opening it on the last day of school. To avoid this, families can mark it as an event on their school and/or personal calendars. Another suggestion is to put the time capsule where summer items are stored, so it’s sure to be found when school is out.
Families can create their own traditions when it comes to opening the time capsule. Some students may prefer to do it away from other family members, whereas others may want everyone to participate. Perhaps a family tradition might be to open the capsule(s) each summer and then add to them for the next school year to accumulate a multitude of memorable items from each grade level.
Most students will be surprised at what they decided to place in the capsule nearly a year ago, and how different they feel compared to that time. They may laugh at their worry list or pictures and be proud of achieving things from their hope list. Overall, the back-to-school time capsule should represent to students and their parents that there will always be hopes and worries as things change but learning and growing is constant and precious.