Andy Blum, LCSW, Early Childhood-5th Grade Counselor

Hi Levine community!

I am happy to be back with you, even virtually.  I was thinking about what might be helpful for you all to hear as we begin the new school year. Like many of you, when school shut down this past March, I was hopeful that we would be back soon in the same way that we had left.  I don't think at that point I could have wrapped my head around the idea that we would be beginning the new school year virtually as well, and when we are able to start in person, things will look very different than anything anyone could have imagined.  Understandably, many of us are anxious and uncertain about what the future holds.  

This summer I listened to a podcast by Brene' Brown. For those who don't know her, she is a researcher who studies courage and vulnerability and is very knowledgeable.  I highly recommend you listen to her TEDtalk, Netflix special or podcasts. In this particular podcast, she discusses how trying new things can be uncomfortable and awkward. She terms it as EFT (expletive first time) or TFT (terrible first time). New is hard. We don't like the discomfort, but the new is what keeps us growing and living. Never has it been more true, that we are in the middle of experiencing that discomfort of doing something new right now.  We have no experience going back to school during a pandemic.  Brene' Brown outlines a strategy to help us get through this.

First recognize that this is new to us. Naming it gives us the power to own it. This is our first time!  We are anxious and nervous -- we don't know what will happen.

Once we have named it, we need to do the following 3 things: 

  1. Normalize it.  This is new.  We are doing something we have never done before, and we are supposed to feel overwhelmed, anxious and uncertain.  It is okay to be scared. 
  2. Put it in perspective.  This feeling is not permanent.  We will not feel this way forever.  We are in the middle of a pandemic.
  3. Reality check.  We need to check our expectations.  I may not feel better right away.  It may be a difficult transition.  The pandemic may last for a long time.  It may take a while to adjust. It is okay. Take a deep breath.

These same ideas can be communicated to our children. Let them know that this school year does look different than any other. They are doing something new and it is okay for them to feel anxious or scared. Put it in perspective for them, and maybe even take a breath together. I will also ask that we all remember that this is everyone's first time!  Be gracious and kind to the teachers, administrators, your kids and each other. As the new year begins and we feel the anticipation of what is to come, I hope Brene' Brown's strategy can be helpful. I am excited to learn and grow with you in whatever way that looks like. 

I wish you all well,

Andy Blum LCSW

EC through 5th grade counselor