This time of year, a trip to Target or Walmart isn't complete without a walk through the school supplies aisle, the rows of new backpacks, or a trip to the clothing section to plan the perfect back to school outfit. Although the start of the school year may be several weeks away for most of us, it's never too early to think about what school supplies we're planning to bring on the first day, both inside our backpacks and out. The first things that come to mind are most likely fresh pencils (check), a new pack of crayons (the one with the built-in sharpener; check), colorful folders (green for science, obviously; check), and those fun little erasers (you know, the ones that don't truly erase but rather smudge the pencil all over the paper; check). But what about the things that don't go inside our backpacks, but rather live within us? Things like attitude, effort, and excitement to learn. Although these things aren't necessarily tangible, they're just as important as – if not more important – the things we pack in our backpacks.
A new school year can bring feelings of excitement as we prepare to see our friends and previous teachers again, but it can also bring feelings of anxiety and nervousness for kids going to new schools, meeting a new teacher, or even just not knowing what to expect with the school year ahead. All these feelings are valid, and you're definitely not alone if you feel a little nervous going back to school. Buying new school supplies and preparing your new backpack can be super exciting, but it's important to remember to check in with yourself and make sure your internal backpack is ready to go too. A few good items to add to your back-to-school checklist include:
- A good attitude: A positive attitude toward learning, yourself, and others is a great starting point. By choosing to be positive we are setting ourselves up for success and position ourselves to give full effort to our schoolwork, friends, classmates, and ourselves.
- An open mind: A new school year is full of endless possibilities. Keeping an open mind is a great way to make sure we're getting the most out of our lessons, conversations, and the school year, as a whole. An open mind can help us make new friends, learn about new passions, or even master a new skill!
- Respect: Respect for ourselves, our peers, and our spaces helps to ensure that we're ready and able to learn. Being kind to others, looking for the good, recognizing and building on our strengths, and celebrating each other's accomplishments is a great way to show respect for ourselves, our peers, and the world around us.
- Effort: A good attitude, open mind, and respect aren't complete without effort. It's important to recognize that the effort we put into ourselves and the school year is what fuels the outcomes we see all year long. American Psychologist Carol Dweck encouraged people to "believe that abilities can be developed through dedication and hard work." Putting a little bit of effort in, as well as showing up and trying your best is a great way to cultivate your skills and abilities.
A good attitude, an open mind, respect, and effort are at the top of our back-to-school list this year, what's on yours? No matter what's in your backpack, each day is a great opportunity to have a good day and learn something new!