By: Sandy Churchill
Teachers are heading back for orientation, parents are shopping for school supplies, and students are either moving in on campus or scrambling to savor the last few days of summer before school is back in session. While the days are still steamy-hot, it’s hard to imagine the coming cooler days of fall, but school will begin again nonetheless. Amid the imaginings of bus stops and back-to-school clothes, freshly-sharpened pencils and vibrant backpacks, is a sense of new challenges, fresh starts, and interesting classes. But the fun and learning that accompanies the early days of September is not limited to the student set, ranging from pre-school to college. We can all embrace the energy and fun, learning and growth that comprise the back-to-school spirit!
From the time I was a child, the back-to-school transition from summer to fall held promise and excitement amid the nerves of new challenges. Who would be my teachers? Would my friends be in my classes? Would the new courses be difficult? What about friends on the bus? What should I wear on the first day? These worries changed and evolved over the years, but always with the spark of learning and growing in a fresh new season. The loveliness of a New England autumn, in all its morning-chill-gold-and-crimson-glory, only added to the magic of a new school year. But aside of being the Mom and Dad or Nana and Papa running around to stock up for a new school year, what does back-to-school mean for the rest of us as adults?
Similar to New Year’s resolutions, September can be a welcome time to tackle new challenges and revitalize old ones. Whether it’s a new fitness routine, the promise of a new book club, enrolling in a Master Class, or embarking on a do-it-yourself craft, the opportunities are endless to grow and learn. Education is both timeless and ageless, and need not be limited to daunting tuitions or on-site enrollment in structured classes. Reading classics, checking out a new genre, or sampling the works of a new author can be a wonderful way to expand horizons for the price of a library card. Visiting museums, aquariums, and zoos can be a “field trip” respite for adults as well as children. Even trying new music on your morning commute or errand runs can be a lively way to spruce up your fall and spice up your daily rounds.
So what are you feeling drawn to this back-to-school season? Are you thinking about learning and growing with a new academic challenge? A new fitness routine? A freshened-up morning practice as you embark on an early walk, a daily journaling exercise, or some new breakfast ideas? Are you feeling drawn to join a club or launch one of your own? How about beginning a regular spiritual practice with your church, Bible study, or prayer group? What about committing to connect with friends or family with an old-fashioned pen pal arrangement? Maybe you feel inspired to make a “wish list” of autumn fun for the coming season. Our family is all about the apple-picking and pumpkin spice spirit. We scramble to embrace the fun of corn mazes, jack-o’lanterns, trunk-or-treat decorating contests, apple cider, and the fun of making our own pie filling for Thanksgiving. Campfires and sweater weather, hay rides, and autumn hikes seem to beckon as soon as we turn the calendar page to the warm light of September.
As your children or grandchildren head back to the routines of earlier bedtimes, homework schedules, soccer practice, dance classes, and after-school snacks, you can opt to join in the fun and frenzy of early September with some learning challenges of your own. The cool breeze is whispering your name! Can you hear it? Autumn is calling…