Fall: Preparing for What’s to Come

Tuesday, October 27, 2020

The fall leaves are showing a full range of color on campus, and I am reminded of and deeply thankful for what we can learn from nature. Just when it seems the landscape can’t get any more beautiful, suddenly, the leaves begin to decay and fall away. While change can bring a sense of loss, fall is also a season when we can be reminded of what’s to come, giving us time to prepare for the winter.

As a parallel, for those students who have been learning on campus, our shift to virtual learning during November and December for the Mercersburg Intensive will be here in a few short weeks. Like the peak of the fall colors, we have reached the pinnacle of this unique term to start the year. Students have adjusted to life with protocols of mask wearing and physical distancing, resumed classes with a block schedule, made new friends, participated in performance group activities, and enjoyed meals outside in the amazing weather. Returning home might come at the perfect time for some, whereas others might feel we just got acquainted, and it’s not quite time to depart.

Before we can do anything to prepare for our transition journey into the Mercersburg Intensive and the entire winter term, we must first face the fact that this shift is about to happen. We humans generally don’t prepare well for change, and there are times when it is very useful to rehearse for what is to come. Transition is a complex process that affects individuals differently. The resurgence of COVID-19 cases in the United States and our return to virtual learning away from campus has the possibility to reactivate experiences of loneliness or isolation that may have occurred last spring when COVID-19 became a pandemic.

You can rehearse and prepare for this by talking to your child about this upcoming transition and, once they are home, inquire about how it feels and what they might need (and don’t be offended if they request privacy and space). Perhaps talk about how to create a personal refuge, either with a cozy physical space or time spent with trusted people, establishing anchoring routines and getting adequate sleep, exercise, and hydration.

Though we are still facing challenges, the opportunities are many. Winter can be a great time for self-reflection and rest. We must take time to simply be present, to process change, supporting any existing and emerging vulnerabilities. Encourage your child to reach out to friends and to you for help as needed. Asking for help is a critical life skill, something that can be nourishing during the harshest times.

I am sending best wishes for a safe and healthy transition of seasons. I’m hoping you will take time to check in with your child by acknowledging the changes and inquiring about their needs. Here is an article that I find helpful.

Please stay tuned for an invite to a Zoom gathering hosted by Mercersburg's Counseling Department in December to support our parent community.