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How Going Back After Semester Break is Like the Space Shuttle

If your family is like mine, there is a certain uneasiness you might be experiencing as you prepare to have your child return to school after the long Christmas layoff.  This layoff is a little different than the summer/fall start to school since it is shorter and since a new grade isn’t beginning. Nevertheless, there are tensions that can fuel a family’s uneasiness upon the return to school.   There are also steps that can be taken to help alleviate some of the headaches (literal and metaphorical) that come with starting back to a regimented schedule after two and a half weeks with significantly less structure. To frame for you metaphorically what this re-entry process is like, I have linked here an explanation of how the space shuttle re-enters earth.  It is well put together and features the famous voice of the PBS Frontline Narrator Will Lyman.  Here is the link to peruse at your leisure re-entry.

I thought I might give you some simple tips to help walk you through what a successful re-entry might look like for your family: 1.  Expect that full re-entry will take time.  While I would have loved for every student to have started going to bed an hour earlier each night since New Years to be ready for that 6 or 7 AM alarm Tuesday morning, it’s probably not likely (especially with a certain special game on Monday night).  However, if over the course of this week they gradually get back into a sleep pattern conducive to success, that is the goal. 2.  Understand that lack of sleep and the loss of freedom from structure will create some frustration and they may be tempted to take it out on those they love the most.  This in turn creates a power struggle as we try to force our will on them to get ready for school.  I am constantly reminded by my wife that “A Gentle Answer Turns Away Wrath, But a Harsh Word Stirs Up Anger,” Proverbs 15:1.  I battle this often when I try to get my son ready for school, but this reminder helps me keep things in perspective. 3.  In the video, it is suggested that there is not any friction in Space to slow the shuttle down.  It is similar to the semester break.  Perhaps there was not much in the way of your child doing whatever she wanted.  She had a great deal of freedom and may have done some things at warp speed going from this game to that, from this get-together to that one, traveling far and wide.  Maybe he was free to sleep for hours on end or play with his new XBOX One for stretches.  But just like the shuttle upon re-entry back to school, our students will need some booster rockets that will gently take them out of their Christmas break orbit into their regular school orbit.  Here are some suggestions of opportunities that do that:

  1. Bible studies at church (and those they may be scheduled for here this semester) pick back up this week and help our kids get re-centered in Christ.

  2. Athletics: many varsity athletes in season have already been here for activities and the middle/jv teams have started back last week so they are getting into the flow.  Out of season athletes and non-athletes might use some purposeful exercise to help boost them back into re-entry.  It also can help boost students’ immune system which is typically very vulnerable during this re-entry.

  3. Re-charging school relationships: some of our students may have been separated from friends over break.  Getting back and engaging with their classmates and teachers helps them get back into the swing of things through the comfortable familiarity these relationships bring.

Ultimately, what we want for our students is pretty similar to the character of the Space Shuttle.  We want them ready to explore new worlds, to go to great lengths, to be efficient and smart, and most of all we want to keep them from burning up before they get there.

Until next time, Happy Flying.

picture taken from the University of California at Irvine Center for Flight Dynamics

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