This was originally posted by the Marion & Polk Early Learning Hub here.

Wow…once again it’s September…and once again we’re entering a very uncertain and confusing school year for our kids. I’m sure that none of us imagined that we would be living through this current scenario at all let alone for two straight back to school seasons…but…here we are. Amidst this uncertainty, fear and confusion there is something very tangible and helpful we can do for our children: provide consistency.

In a world full of unknowns and hidden dangers one of the best things that we can give our children is the confidence that we love them and are always there for them. When a child knows that the person they look up to and care about the most is someone they can always count on, they have hope and security, and are much more willing and interested in exploring knowing that they can always return to us if things get scary. A very simple way we can do this is by creating a before and after school routine.

When my son was going to Kindergarten my wife wanted to create something that he could count on and look forward to. It would also provide some grounding for him and allow him to calm his brain for a moment. Each morning before we dropped him off she would say a short prayer of protection and cuddle him close. Then at the end of the school day whether she picked him up or I did, she would always have a snack waiting at home for him…often a special treat or healthy snack cut into fun shapes. The afternoon snack especially gave him some time to decompress and fill his tummy so that he could have a moment of calm after the busyness of school. She usually tried to keep questions and conversations limited until after he finished to give him the chance to have some moments of peace.

Whether it’s snacks, prayers, reading their favorite story or just a few quiet moments doing their favorite activity, we can go a long way to helping our children manage the stress and uncertainty of this school year by providing a consistent routine they can look forward to. You just might find yourself anticipating it with excitement as well!

This is fatherhood…