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How to Be Super on the First Day of School

Back to School is upon us, and it is a big deal. Yes, it is a big deal to manage all the shopping, the changing of schedules, and the new rhythms.

But for our sensitive children, it is a very big deal because it is NEW. NEW is a big deal. New teachers, new students, new classes, new rooms – new everything, really. And for our sensitive children, NEW equals SCARY. It requires our children to be very brave, flexible, industrious, and improvisational. It requires that our children be Superheroes.


Let me make a quick distinction between superheroes and regular heroes:

  • Regular heroes are brave, flexible, industrious, and improvisational — yes — but they are also public about it.

  • Superheroes are just as brave, flexible, industrious, and improvisational — but they do it anonymously. They are quiet about it. They are subtle.

So if you are looking for strategies for your child — your sensitive child — on their first day of school, I recommend the way of the Superhero. And for those of you are familiar with the How to Be Super Series, you will recognize the steps:

  1. Keep Your Eyes Open. Look around. Listen. Notice the quiet things – the colors, the qualities of sound, the smells, the expressions. Be very curious and interested in everything. Wow, that person looks older. Wow, that is a bright and colorful lunchbox. Wow, this room smells like pizza. If your child’s eyes are open, they will be more attentive to their environment than to how nervous they are feeling.

  2. Believe It. Of all the things you have noticed – all the things you have seen, heard, smelled, and felt – notice which one makes your heart open. Perhaps it is someone’s smile. Perhaps it is the smell of chocolate. Perhaps it is the clickity-clack of someone’s shoes. Place all your attention on that thing that makes your heart open and let it lead you. Let your heart lead you – and BELIEVE that it will take you someplace wonderful. If you BELIEVE that your heart will take you someplace wonderful ... you might just meet your new best friend.

  3. Do Something Brave. Now it is time to act. It is time to do something. It is time to stop attending and engage. You noticed something, your heart has led you somewhere – now it is time to step forward and take a risk. Introduce yourself. Ask a question. Pick up something that was dropped. Raise your hand. Knock on a door. Do something brave.

  4. Tell No One. This is what makes a superhero. Heroes step into the spotlight, do their thing and then are happy to be interviewed by the press. Superheroes do it quietly and often are not noticed. They are humble. They are anonymous. So after you notice something and your heart leads you to a particular place, you do something brave. You step forward and take a risk. Immediately after you do this, step back. Step back and listen. Nod your head. Smile. Be quiet. This might look like:

    • Asking a person where they got their lunch box and then listening closely to the answer.
    • Noticing that someone is standing by themselves and saying hello.
    • Introducing yourself to the person next to you and asking them about their summer.
    • Smelling something good from someone’s lunch and letting them know.

You will notice that the Fourth Step is not about impressing anyone, not about telling stories, not about listing off things you like or don’t like. No, it is the opposite. When you listen, when you watch, when you smile and nod your head and ask lots of questions, you are serving someone else, helping them. And what is the point of a superhero other than service?

How to Be Super? Help others. And by helping others ... you help yourself.


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About the Author

David Sewell McCann
Story Spinner

David Sewell McCann fell in love with spinning stories in first grade – the day a storyteller came to his class and captured his mind and imagination. He has been engaged in storytelling all of his adult life through painting, film-making, teaching and performing. Out of his experience as a Waldorf elementary class teacher and parent, he has developed a four step method of intuitive storytelling, which he now shares through workshops and through this website.