Every parent, teacher, and child I know right now is feeling a bit sad to let summer go and anxious about how to navigate this summer to fall transition. In addition, normal worries have been amplified by the challenges of the past six months and the uncertainty of the future. However, these challenges offer us opportunities for reflection and creativity.

Here are some tips to help you enter this new season and help your child adjust to online or hybrid school.

Accept the Challenges and Work Together

We have to continually make decisions that affect our mental and physical health with not enough information. Sometimes those decisions are made for us, and we are unhappy with the outcome. Other times we are relieved. The key is to accept the challenges and seek ways to make the best of them.

We all have a unique set of factors in our situations – children’s needs, family structures, living arrangements, and lack or presence of employment, access to necessities and technology, and support systems. There is no universal solution that supports all at the moment, so we have to help each other.

We must choose what feels most right for our own families, and advocate for equity in the systems in which we participate. As old ways of doing things shut down, we have opportunities to create new responses and habits. This will be a year to practice creativity and flexibility as we invite our kids to collaborate in problem solving along with us.

Take time to reflect regularly.

navigate the summer

Ask yourself: 

What has been going well lately?

How have I been handling current challenges? 

What do I want to focus on the in the current week? 

Which values do I want to focus on with my family this year? 

Take some time to consider your answers… You might even write your ideas down or share them with a friend.

I ask my clients these questions during our parent coaching sessions, and I often bring them into chats with my family and friends. It’s good to pause and check in with ourselves regularly and take stock of where and how we are. In this way, we can make decisions from a centered place.

These questions can also make for good dinner-time or walking conversations. Want more kid-friendly and fun-to-use questions? Download my Conversation Jumpstarts to help get your family in a habit of regular reflection.

Moments of Transition: Doors to New Possibilities

Moments of Transition

My family recently visited the DeCordova Museum where I was struck by this exhibit by an emergency room physician who explores the moments between life and death, interior and exterior, and the processes of alchemy and transformation in his art.

I’ve been thinking about how the pain we are going through as a global society is also offering opportunities for new approaches, moves towards justice, and innovative ways of solving human problems. These translucent doors have a metaphorical quality to them that applies to my work as a parent coach and social justice educator:

How can we use moments of conflict and “door shutting” as moments for “opening doors” to renewal and creation in our families and our world? 

Here are two types of “doors” that we are passing through at this time of year…

Door 1: Summer to Fall

Many of us feel a mix of sadness and happiness as summer comes to an end. I know I do. Summer offers freedom, opportunities for outdoor fun, delicious food, and the pleasure of sunshine and warmth. Fall has a beauty of its own, and brings the start of school, holidays, and changing leaves and light.

We can look to nature for cues on how to transition to a new season. Plants and trees create and disperse seed pods full of possibility as the days grow shorter.

summer to fall

We can create our own seeds of strength and possibility by:

Reflecting on the things we are grateful  for.

Pulling out our Summer Brainstorm sheets and seeing what we did and still want to do. There’s still time to make one! 

Setting new goals for ourselves in the coming months.

If you have young children, go outside and look for evidence of seeds forming. Talk about the new things you want to do in September. What did you love about the summer? What do you love about the fall? Make a visual list of things you want to do together with family and friends this fall.

If you have tweens or teens, you might suggest they make a list of things they want to do before school starts. How do they want to mark the start of their school year, even if their school is online? What traditions can you keep and what new traditions do you want to create?

Consider service as part of a summer to fall transition

How might your kids help younger children who are going to be doing more at-home school this year? Maybe they can read to children on a Zoom call (there is a 40 minute free version), or help them with math, start a soccer game, or teach a craft or science project online or in person at a safe distance with masks on. Look for a local or national organization where they can volunteer with friends or family. Two ideas to get started: Cradles to Crayons is one of our family favorites. Project Giving Kids connects kids to organizations and offers monthly ideas.

Get creative about social connections

How can your children safely connect with other kids while doing homework or extra-curricular activities? What creative ways can help them get the social and emotional connection school offers? Making regular Zoom or Facetime calls or meeting in outside spaces helps kids feel more connected. Advocate for your child’s school to offer some in-person safe activities, even if all academic classes are online.

If you need help thinking of ideas for your family, schedule a Clarity Call with me. I love to brainstorm with parents. And if you want to craft a plan with your whole family, we can schedule a Zoom to help each person feel included.

Door 2: Summer Freedom to Online School

summer freedom

Ready for a new start?

When my kids were younger, I remember feeling very ready for school to start by the end of August. We’d had enough of being together and keeping everyone occupied and happy. I was ready for kind, enthusiastic teachers to give me a break.

You may be feeling this way, too, but now school is not really a break, just a new challenge to manage at home. Some of you may be fortunate enough to send your children to school. However, many of us have our kids either doing online school at home or in a hybrid way, with only a short time at school each week. This presents new challenges.

How do we make this year a better school experience than last spring? 

Send me your questions at amy@amybehrens.com or post them on my FB page. I’ll be answering them in some upcoming Facebook Lives.

Tips to make online school go more smoothly

For you:

1) If you have to talk with your boss or colleagues about shifting your schedule, think about what you need and what you can and cannot do, and have those conversations.

2) Need to hire a babysitter or find a friend or relative to help out? Start making those calls and create a schedule.

3) Talk with your parenting partner if you have one. Figure out how to manage the day so that everyone gets some work time and some child-centered time. Build in breaks for everyone.

4) Figure out when you can fit in some time for exercise and self-care so that you can stay sane.

For your child(ren):

1) Create a work space where they can be online and focus. This might mean cleaning out or rearranging furniture. Set up work stations with the things they need. Talk about what worked last spring and what didn’t. Sometimes some new school supplies can help them get excited about the new year.

2) Look for the silver linings…Perhaps they will have a shorter school day which leaves more time for pursuing their own interests. Maybe school will start later, giving them more time to sleep.

3) Think together about how to make the school days social by planning meet ups with friends, safe extra-curricular activities, or ways of working together with friends while doing homework (Zoom, Facetime, or Google Meet up, etc.).

4) Create a learning pod. Some families are establishing learning groups with a few friends. If you want your child to be in a pod and don’t know how to make it happen, schedule a call with me and I can help.

5) Make a list of new things your children want to learn, make, or do this fall and figure out how they can do that.

6) Put together an “idea jar” or a list of family things to do on weeknights or weekends to bring in some fun, get outside, and connect with each other.

7) Set an intention to think outside of the box and get creative this year. Be open to spontaneous ideas of how to do things in a new way.

Tips to make online school go more smoothly

Center yourself with nature

Nature continually offers moments of beauty that can lift our hearts and give us peace. When you are feeling stressed about transitions, take a moment to engage with nature.

  • Spend time looking at the sky, at the trees, and at water.
  • Stop and study flowers and other things growing in gardens, whether you are in the city, suburbs or country.
  • Plant some herb seeds that you can keep in a sunny window and watch them grow.
  • Take a walk every day if you can, or open a window to get some fresh air.
  • Sit in a park or a garden and just breathe.
  • Look out the window and not at your phone when you feel stressed.

Remember that just as there are seasons in nature, there are seasons in our lives. What we focus on grows and flourishes, so focus on what is good, hopeful, and alive, and you will feel better. And so will the people around you.

I wish you daily moments of peace and reflective pauses as you move through the doors of a new season!


Here’s a blog from last August you might enjoy, too! 

From End-of-Summer Blahs to New Season Excitement: Mindset Shifts that Generate Energy

Download my Conversation Jumpstarts to have more meaningful conversations with your family and friends. They’re free!

Who I serve:
I coach parents from coast to coast in the US and internationally.  Thanks to Zoom, I am currently coaching parents from Boston to Seattle, Connecticut to California, as well as New York, Ohio, and Colorado. I’ve worked with parents in Bermuda, Japan, Portugal, and Canada as well. I’m grateful for these global and domestic connections!