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GROWnings: A New School Year - But Not Like We’ve Ever Seen It Before...


(Photo Credit: Anya Campbell)

Bethia: Another school year is starting. No one knows quite what it will look like. We did a poll on our Facebook group (Raising Kids For People and Planet) and most parents said they felt worried or nervous about the new school year. There are so many challenges when it comes to school and this week we have been reflecting on the things we have learnt from our own experiences of school. Be encouraged - when we look back, we can see all the things we learnt and gained from the challenges of school life. Whether they are social, academic or unknown COVID challenges, there are positives that come from the difficulties.

With the start of the new school year, our September GROWbox includes lots of activities to encourage self-belief at the start of a new school year.

Jess: For me, at school, lack of confidence and self-esteem were crippling. Thankfully my university years set that straight as I found ‘my people’ and ‘myself’. Standing from this side of it all, the challenges, once all-consuming, are now mere trivialities. In fact, there is good news! These experiences made me more resilient and the social awkwardness made me more observant. As parents, we need to swap the worry for positivity and support instead.

Shyness felt like a curse, but it is OK to be shy, people are just working out who they are at school, where they fit in, or where they don’t. The right balance of confidence and trust in your capabilities is a superskill, the key to thriving at school (and life in general!). As adults we know that the emotional ‘growing pains’ of childhood are short-lived. As parents, we must learn to focus on the positives, on the many benefits of learning (at school or otherwise), on the many skills that socialising with others, however scary, can give us; on the confidence boost that comes from overcoming a problem.

So, Bethia, what about you? What would you say to your ‘school pupil’ self to help you through the academic challenges of school life?

Bethia: I think as a teacher, I now see ‘ability’ very differently to how I saw it when I was at school. I thought of it very simplistically then - the clever kids got good grades and good grades = able.

I’ve met far too many students who’ve blown that view out of the water to believe that any more. One in particular stands out in my mind. She was always late. She nearly always had half a hair style working and the other half in total rebellion. A lot of the time she had the school receptionist chasing her around because she had missed a music lesson or a dentist appointment etc. She never had the right books or a pen. She was chaos-on-legs. She didn’t get amazing grades. But she regularly contributed ‘gold’ to our class discussions! She could think outside the box. Her ideas and thoughts were original and beyond a lot of her peers. She didn’t just tell me what she’d just read off the board. She had a fantastic mind. She was really smart.

I think we easily get stuck in the mindset of what “I can” looks like and I really think it’s a broader and freer place than we give it credit for. We need to encourage that belief in our kids - ability is a really diverse and exciting place.

Jess: Too true! I often think of this quote by Sir Isaac Newton:

“Everyone is a genius, but if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.”

To give you the extra boost that you might be looking for right now, here are a few ‘tips’ and tools to help you and your child start the year with as much confidence and positive mind-set as possible in these strange times. It can feel so out of our hands and unknown with a new school year starting in a global pandemic but there are actions we can take:

  1. Reassure your child by seeing if they can rate their worries on a scale of one to ten, where one is very minor and ten is a massive worry. This way they can gain a little perspective and the problem may be smaller and more manageable than they initially thought.

  2. Be actively positive in all of your communications with your child; they pick up on our anxieties and look to us for reassurance. In talking about the start of school, focus on things like seeing good friends again, learning new things that they are interested in, getting better at skills and talents they already have.

  3. Make a point of regularly checking in with your child in the first few days. They are often the hardest days as we all get into the swing of the routine again, especially as school has not been such a consistent feature in our lives this year. Get through these in a calm and collected manner and your child will certainly get the best start they can!

Check out our website and our September GROWbox (either in digital form - GROWbox Global, or as a subscription box). To celebrate the bank holiday weekend and the start of the academic year, we offer you a discount code: LAUNCH09 to get 10% off any GROWbox product.

GROWnings is a weekly blog conversation by "GROW together!" to reflect our values and behaviours and encouraging open conversation on topical issues.

‘GROW Together!’ is an educational resources and subscription box company to provide fun, personalised learning resources enabling engagement between parents/carers and their children. The activities focus on getting in touch with nature and encouraging a desire to protect it, promoting better mental and physical wellbeing, allowing space for creativity and connectivity. Find out more on our website,, Facebook group, and on our Instagram Feed

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Welcome to Planet & People, a Devon-based Community Interest Company which empowers people to create a better future for planet and people.

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