Back to the Open

Tuesday, September 14, 2021

Barbara H. Scott, Executive Director, Parents League of New York

Like many New Yorkers, the end of summer is bookmarked by a visit to the US Open and back to school shopping trips. As a family of avid tennis players, including a high school age daughter, we trek to Flushing each year to watch juniors and professionals alike. Over the seasons our annual Open visits have often been hot and humid, while others have been crisp and clear, and on some occasions, we’ve even sat through drizzle. This year with the sun high in the sky and a cool breeze blowing, the courts were filled with a special energy.  Was it the vitality of Fernandez, Raducanu and Medvedev that surprised us as they each made history?  Or, was the crowd's excitement driven by an acceptance of the ongoing pandemic and a collective willingness to, as the Brits say, carry on?

Like a backhand slice is a tool in tennis, heading back to school with COVID-19 and the Delta variant means using our best parenting skills as we dig deep for our kids. To that end, here are some thoughts for back to school this year:

1. Take each day as it comes; be flexible

2. Talk with your kids about returning to school; take time to listen

3. Set regular, predictable routines while allowing your child some independence

4. Establish a sleep routine that is age appropriate 

5. Model kindness, patience and good humor

6. Watch for signs of stress in your child; seek support as needed

7. Plan ahead where possible

8. Be in communication with your child’s school and teacher

9. Find time to unplug as a family

10. Take care of yourself

Moving children through the first weeks of school may feel daunting but as New York City calibrates its new normal, remember the children are watching.  You may need to paint the tennis court lines on tougher days, but teaching your child resilience is an important element of their personal development. Kids tend to feed off parent energy. So, if school protocols change, homework sent home is too little or too much, or your child chooses to play video games with friends rather than coming to the dinner table, remember, they too, are recalibrating a new normal.  Give yourself and your child the space and time to adjust.  I promise it will be worth the ticket to the match.

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Barbara H. Scott, Executive Director, Parents League of New York