Saved by the…Bell?!?

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. --

Cooler temperatures, football season, increased traffic, endless back to school sales and aisles of school supplies are all sure signs that summer is over and school is back in session.  This time of year brings a myriad of emotion from across the spectrum—by both parents and students; excitement, apprehension, anxiety, sadness, joy, and stress are just a few. When you add the transition of going from elementary to middle school, middle to high school, high school to college, or starting a new school—these feelings can escalate tremendously.  I remember distinctly that “Day 1” feeling.  Day 1 of elementary, Day 1 of junior high, Day 1 of high school, and Day 1 of college.  Both as a parent and a student.  Back to school shopping to find that perfect “first day” outfit; digging through the bin until I found the “perfect” trapper keeper with the “perfect” design; then of course the coolest back pack filled with all my school supplies packed and re-packed at least 3 days before school started.  I remember running to school when the schedules were posted to find out who the lucky teacher was, and of course which of my friends were in which class.  The endless conversations about what this school year would be like and who was going to sit with who at the lunch table.  As a parent, I’ve even tried to pass some of that excitement over to my children as they started school—especially at their milestones.  Many times I was excited to see them off to school but then sad to realize how fast time passes by and how important it is to cherish the growing years. 

As exciting a time as back to school may be, there were times that it certainly did and can have its challenges.  The stress of homework, after school activities, conflict with teachers/administrators, bullying, and balancing work/life/school can start to weigh on parents and families—at times becoming overwhelming.  We’ve all been there—or skirted close to it-- at some point.  After coming off of weeks of vacation, no bedtime, hanging with friends all day, or even holding down a full time job, it can be difficult to get back into the routine of school.  Can I tell you a secret?  I found help in many of our base resources!  These resources are available all year round, however I found them most helpful at the beginning of the school year and during those stressful times for students (exams, etc).  The first one was the School Liaison Officer (SLO).  Located in the Airman and Family Readiness Center, the SLO is available to provide information on Colorado Springs school districts, acts as the liaison between the military community and school administrators, provides consultation services regarding school education, and provides transition information on other school districts for military members who are PCSing. This was a huge help in determining where to enroll my children in school and exploring all the options available.  For more information, call (719) 556-6141 or email: 21fss.fsfr@us.af.mil.

Another wonderful resource was the Military & Family Life Consultants (MFLC).  They are licensed clinical counselors assigned to Peterson AFB to work with families, individuals, couples and children to provide non-medical problem identification counseling services.  These non-medical services include anger management, conflict resolution, parenting, relationship issues, homesickness, assignment stress, and decision-making skills.  They are also located in several of the schools.  These counselors were an invaluable tool for my daughter when dealing with a deployed parent, managing emotions in the classroom, and transitioning between schools during the school year.  They also offered some invaluable parenting tips on how to deal with strong-willed children and how to get children to want to do homework when they are more interested in playing!  Appointments for adults can be made by calling (719) 425-1115 or (719) 342-9572.  Appointments for children and youth can be made by calling (719) 651-7851 or (719) 651-0736.

One last resource I found useful was tutor.com.  It was free to use and provided K-12 students, college and adult learners 24/7 certified, professional tutors and resources.  I remember the first time I tried to help my daughter with her common core math homework!  We both ended up frustrated and in tears.  I felt like all my years of schooling meant nothing because I couldn’t figure out how to solve a simple math problem using the prescribed methods when I could simply say that 5 + 4 = 9!  My frustration transferred over to her and topped with me not being able to explain it only made her more confused.  We both found relief when connected with someone that understood, and loved, math! 

Parents, as you kiss and wave good bye to your children either at the bus stop, school drop off, before care or youth center, know that this is an emotional time for everyone but with your love and support, our children can have the best year ever! 

Students, as you walk through the doors of a new school or a returning school, embrace these learning opportunities.  What better place can you go to hang out with friends, socialize, get involved in sports/activities, run for office, make a difference, and learn valuable tools to succeed in life? 

It can be challenging, yet rewarding.  Hectic, yet fulfilling.  Emotional, yet proud.  All of this is normal and part of life.  In those moments it becomes ab-normal or overwhelming, remember that you are not in this alone.  Reach out and help is there for both parents and students alike.  Happy New School Year and enjoy!