Written by Sue Simmons, Founder, Equinox Family Consulting Ltd.
Who could have predicted that the count-down to September would feel the way it does for parents right now?
Wherever you may be in the world, you’re undoubtedly wrestling with a number of difficult decisions about the upcoming school year. It’s times like these that remind us, we are one big human family. We’ve all been impacted with the same struggles; fewer outings, more time spent at home together, and undoubtedly challenges related to stress and anxiety.
I thought I’d take this opportunity to offer some hard-won wisdom that I’ve accumulated over the years, along with nuggets from discussions that I’ve had with my clients recently. It is my hope that this gives you some comfort and guidance as you consider your upcoming plans.
Make decisions knowing that you’re the expert!
As dedicated parents we want to do what’s best for our children, and naturally we see education as a key aspect of their lives.
Particularly when we have children with challenges, we strive to ensure that they get the most out of their educational environment. With that in mind, I invite you to consider these thoughts:
- Learning takes place when our children are in a calm and receptive state. As part of the Unyte-ILS family, you have chosen a path that honors your child’s unique brain and nervous system. Your dedication to your child’s physical and emotional wellness has guided your decisions thus far. Despite the difficulty of the last several months, I invite you to take note of the progress your child has made, no matter how small it may seem in this moment. Perhaps they have learned to engage in a new activity, or participate with your family in new ways. Take the small wins and run with them; you brought them about!
When considering school plans for the fall take solace in knowing that there isn’t a definitive “right” answer; there is always room for “Plan B.” Let your heart guide you, knowing that you are the expert in your child! Our society’s timelines and expectations may not serve your unique child. I myself, and many of those I’ve served have chosen to let go of the prescribed timelines for their child’s educational journey. Some have chosen “un-schooling,” and others part-time schooling or homeschooling. In every case, the learning (if you’ll pardon the expression) has been that to maximize progress, slowing things down garners the best results in terms of our children’s well-being and self-esteem.
- Meaningful learning can take place outside of a school environment! We typically consider a classroom as the place where learning occurs. I challenge this assumption. There are opportunities all around us to involve our children in ways that they can learn and grow. I recently had a client share a story about teaching his son how to walk their family’s dog. Within a week or two, this little guy was beaming with pride about his new relationship with their pet. His feelings of competence were obvious, and his sense of accomplishment fuelled eagerness to further stretch himself. This resulted in his willingness to revisit riding his bike. He was successful! Competence is indeed addictive; the more experiences of competence we can give our children, the more their intrinsic motivation will emerge naturally.
- Be compassionate with yourselves. As much as we seek to control the environment, there’s no way to predict what will unfold over the coming months. Regardless of your decisions, take solace in the fact that you’re doing your best, and avoid the temptation to second-guess yourself or compare your decisions with those of other families! Stay focused on your child and family, and if social media causes undue stress, consider limiting your time in groups that aren’t positive and supportive. Do what’s best for you as an individual.
Acknowledge that this is a difficult time, and that you’re making the best choices you can with the information you have available right now. As focused as we are on our children during this time, remember that you matter. Make time for small acts of self-care when you can.
- Show empathy when your children aren’t at their best. We’re all feeling uncertainty right now. Regardless of the path you choose for your child and family, know that when things derail, your child isn’t “choosing” to be a pain. Behavior is communication. Providing signals of safety, and showing up with true empathy and understanding will diffuse tension and help you feel closer.
I wish you all the best as you move forward in your journey, and remember that you are the expert in your child, and you are enough.
To register for Sue’s FREE upcoming Mini-Parenting Class, From Helpless to Hopeless, click here. In this free 30-minute class you’ll learn some critical information on making sense of your challenges, and the power that YOU have as a parent!
If you’re interested in joining Empowered Parents Navigating Autism, Sue’s free FB Parent group, click here. The group offers a place to learn and grow, and a community of parents seeking the best for their children and families.
You can visit Sue’s website at Equinox Family Consulting Ltd.