Back to School, Getting Involved and Finding Balance
By now, most high schools are weeks into the new school year and students are amping up their calendars with clubs, volunteering, sporting events, and more. I feel like many of my students are excited to have a somewhat normal school year. Let’s hope it stays this way!
With clubs and other organizations back in full swing, it’s hard for many students to pace themselves (especially after COVID). There are SO many clubs to join! How does one choose? One thing I encourage my students to do is find a couple of clubs that genuinely interest them. Colleges don’t want to see loads of clubs on college applications with minimal commitment, but they would rather see a few clubs where students have devoted their time and in areas that interest them. It’s more about the quality of time with each activity NOT about the number of activities students participate in.
One of my favorite things to do with students is to help them decide how to get involved at school or in their community. And if their school doesn’t offer something they are interested in, we investigate options. For example, if a student really loves working with animals, we search for local opportunities at pet rescues, cat sanctuaries, cat cafes, wildlife conservation organizations, and service animal organizations. Many schools have added emotional support animal “visit days” to help with the increase in anxieties among students. And if students really have a desire to practice leadership skills, they create a club at their school related to animals. This is just one example of how students can find a way to get involved doing something they love, not dread, in their school or community.
One of my first jobs out of college was as a volunteer coordinator for a non-profit organization. My best volunteers were those who believed in the mission of the organization and absolutely loved giving their time to help out. There are endless opportunities for getting involved in organizations and clubs that a student is passionate about are endless! One of my favorite t-shirts I wear says “One Year - 365 Opportunities” which I couldn’t agree with more.
With students becoming more active this school year, that also adds more busy-ness to the family calendar, which means organization is key to keeping everyone happy. Here are a few organization tips I recommend:
Create filters (or labels) in your email to help keep the important items in your inbox and the other stuff filtered out. This is so helpful for students when college emails start to inundate their inboxes. And unsubscribe from those emails you don’t want or need!
Create a family calendar where students and parents can share important meetings/dates/deadlines. This is especially helpful during college application season when deadlines are constant. Parents don’t have to ask when an application is due because it’s on the calendar.
Create a regularly scheduled “meeting” with students and parents to check-in. These meetings should be brief (15 minutes) and used as a chance to get on the same page with what’s coming up for the week/month. I do not recommend holding your meeting during meal times because this (usually) invites phones to the table and the focus at mealtime should be about community and food! I would also invite everyone to be fully present. I learned from a book I’m reading, The Awakened Family - How to Raise Empowered, Resilient, and Conscious Children, that “becoming present allows us to connect with whatever arises around us, all the while maintaining a state of balance and calm.” It’s a fantastic book that everyone can learn from!
While this is the time of year for students to explore their interests, learn new skills, and for families to practice a little more organization, don’t forget to seek balance and invite calm into your family’s lives as well.