"Sam's Switch" Sheds Light on Making Good Choices When Returning to School

It is time to make that switch as we shift from Summer to Fall (sigh). However, this current Fall is going to look very different from all other previous starts to the school year. We as a society are learning to adjust to what the schools will look like during a pandemic. After many months, parents survived ...yes survived ... the gruelling months that heavily emphasized the online classroom concept. Teachers, administrators, parents, and most importantly students all adjusted to what life would be like if school was at home every day. The time has come to make that switch back to the classrooms, even though it will look very different, it is happening. We of course do not know what it will look like in actuality or how long it will last, but we have to be conscious of keeping things as structured as possible, especially for our children. One thing that we need to place a lot of emphasis on is managing how we conduct ourselves and make every effort to not make impulsive decisions and actions during a very sensitive time.

One book that comes to mind is recently published Sam's Switch written by elementary school teacher, Kera Borodkin (available at McNally Robinson & Indigo). The book illustrates one young student who has a hard time turning on his metaphorical switch in his mind to make conscious, mindful, and intentional choices that do not disrupt others or get him into trouble. The book outlines how many small decisions our children have to make when in school or at home. Moreover, it reiterates how easy it is to be tempted to make certain choices that will get others to laugh or will lead to benefits for the individual involved regardless of the impact on others. Sam eventually learns to train his brain to make conscious and intentional decisions that both morally and ethically benefit others in a respectful way. The entertaining, yet very helpful resource is one that many students can and need to relate to, especially during this current point in time we are in. The time is now to focus on helping our children make mindful and less impulsive choices leading into the Fall.

As we progress into the Fall, it will be essential that everyone (both parents and children) use their switch both in schools and at home. If that means you need to wear a mask, then think with intention and although it might be uncomfortable, instead of disregarding that preventative option during the pandemic, use your switch and make the choice that will benefit yourself and others. If the schools are going to educate all on how to effectively socially distance while in class, it will be important as parents that we reiterate how important it is for our children if we want to quell the potential spread. The key is for our children to see consistency and to apply many of these rules to every aspect of their lives so it becomes the norm, for now.

It will be very tempting for many of our children to become so comfortable with returning to school that they will easily forget the necessary social distancing suggestions. It will be crucial as we make an attempt to reopen the schools that we ensure the students are using their switch to think about their actions. Anxiety tends to emerge when we perceive we cannot control certain things within our environment. To help prevent additional Anxiety (especially in the classrooms) help your children use their switch to control how they act with respect to keeping a safe distance, frequently washing / sanitizing their hands, covering their coughs or sneezes appropriately, and accepting that these current circumstances are temporary. If they disregard their switch and avoid or mock these rules and parameters, they are letting the virus take control rather than giving them the perceived control. It has been a difficult year for all of us which has likely led to more screen time than we could even fathom. Let's continue the efforts to follow Sam's lead and use our switch to think about what is best for everyone so we can return to our lives without social and work limitations.


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