Glass Half Full: First day of school brings new challenges, opportunities |

Glass Half Full: First day of school brings new challenges, opportunities

This week marks the commencement of classes in Incline Village schools. Lucky us — the rest of Washoe County has been in session for two weeks. Our streets and parking lots have emptied of that last onslaught of summer visitors (save the Labor Day crew just around the corner), and we feel like a village again.

For me, the start of school always heralds excitement and a conscious awareness of what The First Day of School felt like when I was a child. I suspect the feelings in today’s children are not much different.

New clothes, new binders and pencils, perhaps a new backpack (not that we had backpacks when I was in elementary school), all are exciting. Those are the happy “news.” More trepidatious are the questions about new friends, new teachers, new classrooms, new activities.

Remember those days? How was the new student going to impact the dynamics of a class — and your circle of friends. What if you were the new student? Did you enter a new school full of confidence, or did it take special courage even to step out of the car or off the bus that first morning? Were you able to mask your fears and concerns — possibly fiercely — or did you hide in any corner you could find?

What about our parents? Did they, too, smile and wave and tell us we could conquer the world and were off to a spectacular year? Or did they allow insecurities from their own childhoods to color the ways they sent us into the school year?

For me, as a parent, it was always a task to separate my own experience from that of my daughters. School was a happy place for me. I still recall my first day of first grade as one filled with excitement and big plans.

Apparently I reported to my mother, with great disappointment, that I had not learned to read by the end of the day. For one of our daughters, especially, the school journey was much more challenging.

The thing is, we all developed at our own rates and with our own interests, just as children have done for centuries and will continue to do. We accept that we can’t make our children any taller than they are genetically disposed to be.

It’s more of a challenge to allow our offspring to explore and develop (or not) at their own, natural rate. Children are remarkable, resilient creatures. If we are consistent in our support of who they are, which includes their inevitable flailings, they will develop their own sets of confidence and skills.

This first week, especially, but also in those to come, I encourage all parents to listen with an open heart and mind. Whether children are confident or timid, they will find their ways, supported by teachers and classmates on the same journey.

Each of our children is special, by nature. The challenge, sometimes, is to let them be different from us.

Ruth Glass is headmaster at Lake Tahoe School. She can be reached for comment through her blog at

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