Looking for Rainbows in the Back-to-School Storm

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“What you focus on, grows.”

“What you focus on, grows.” This is a quote I’ve been meditating on for a while now (long before we’d ever heard of COVID19) — but right now it feels more important than ever. As we get closer to schools re-opening across the country, there is a lot of information vying for our attention. There is research to be studied, advice from medical experts we need to review, personal fears to manage, complicated school plans to choose between, and no less than a million differing opinions on social media! Hopping online feels kind of like walking into a hurricane these days. But what if we could cut through the noise and make a choice about where to FOCUS for the coming year? And what if we could teach our children to do the same?

Even in the midst of this global pandemic — the first day of school is coming. Whether you are deciding to homeschool, opting for virtual school, sending your child in person — or you find yourself prepping to teach a classroom full of kids this year, there is ONE thing we can all commit to, together: let’s look for the rainbows.

Look for rainbows in the back-to-school storm

This year, I’ve decided to embrace a rainbow “back to school” theme for my little girl. We often look for rainbows after the rain . . . but did you know that sometimes you can see them in the midst of a storm? It only takes a little bit of light to find all those beautiful colors (even when dark clouds surround you). We can choose to only see the storm — or we can try to shine our lights and focus on every little bit of beauty we can find (even while the rain still falls). This is the lesson I want to teach my little one in the midst of so much struggle and stress.

And so . . . we’re going to make it a RAINBOW year! If you want to join me, here are a few ideas you can try:

Rainbow Decor

Set the stage with colorful decor to introduce this theme to your kids. Teachers, it’s easy to find ways to work rainbow colors into your classroom (or homeschool area!) For moms sending your kids off to school — how about rainbow balloons for your child to wake up to the first day of school? DIY them with an arch from Amazon, or contact a local business like Party Pickup (who created this beautiful balloon art below) for something extra special! Rainbow balloons definitely create a more cheery atmosphere!

Rainbow Clothes

I’ve always been a fan of a fun “back to school” outfit. There are tons of options for rainbow clothes for kids (yes, even rainbow masks!) and adults. Life is Good currently has my favorite rainbow themed t-shirts (with positive messages!) which would be a great option for a homeschool mom or teacher. You could even buy one as a teacher gift to kick off the year! Here’s another option for the homeschool moms: how about some matching family rainbow PJs?!

If you have a teen who won’t be wild about you choosing their BTS outfit — you could always opt for an accessory. Etsy has some cute rainbow bracelets and keychains, and you can find fun rainbow socks on Amazon! 

Rainbow Gifts 

If your child’s love language is gifts (like mine), then a back to school gift might help them feel a little more excited about this school year. For my daughter I’m considering rainbow hair clips, rainbow hair chalk, or this cool rainbow science kit (which is fun and educational!) Teachers, you might consider a rainbow pencil for each of your students as a little “welcome to my class” gift.

Rainbow Food

Eating rainbow colored treats is a creative way to remember your theme throughout the year. If you pack your child’s lunch, try to include a rainbow lunch every now and then to brighten their day. You could do this by looking up recipes (We try to avoid artificial dyes, so I love these healthy options), adding lots of colorful fruit and veggies (did you know there are purple carrots and cauliflower?!), or just throwing in some Lucky Charms or a funfetti cupcake. You might even add a rainbow napkin and a little note to remind them to “look for rainbows”!

Homeschool moms, challenge your kids to find new ways to “eat the rainbow,” or consider making rainbow fruit pizza with them for a fun dessert! [Check out this fruit pizza recipe, pictured above. For a sweeter option, try a sugar cookie crust!]

Rainbow Crafts

A quick search on pinterest will pull up a thousand different rainbow craft options, so take a peek and find a few that fit your child’s age and interest! My daughter is seven, so I am considering some stained glass (plastic) art pieces, beaded friendship bracelets, stitching a rainbow (with embroidery thread and fabric), or maybe even making rainbow ornaments with cookie cutters and salt dough. I think it would be fun to drop the finished ornaments off to friends’ and neighbors’ houses along with a note to brighten their day! We will also do an outdoor scavenger hunt for different colors in nature, and then do pressed flower & wax paper bookmarks with what we find. We will mail the extra bookmarks to family and friends (and learn a bit about letter writing in the process!)

Rainbow Books

Adding rainbow books to your reading plan is a great way to support your theme for elementary age children. Teachers could read one rainbow book a week to their class (and parents, if you have a favorite, consider gifting your child’s teacher a copy!)

We love this one, that features all the colors of the rainbow as a way to talk about our feelings. I am hoping we can find some fun new ones to check out with curbside pickup from our local library! 

A Rainbow Journal

I saved the best for last! This is my final (but favorite) plan for the year. We will be keeping a “rainbow journal” for our family. Each person will write one thing they are thankful for to start each day. I am hopeful it will help set the tone for our days, and I’m really looking forward to a filled journal at the end of the year that we can all look back on! I know we’ll cherish this list of things we’re grateful for! 

This is something you can do with your family whether you are homeschooling or sending your kids to school — at the start of the day or around the dinner table at night. For teachers, it’s a great writing exercise that can really shift the mood at the beginning of your class time!

Remember, it’s not *all* sunshine and rainbows . . .

I do want to be careful not to force “toxic positivity” on my child . . . this won’t be a year that we ignore our struggles or stress. We will be honest and open and do regular family checkins to discuss the “clouds” too. Expressing grief is normal, healthy, and needed! But we can acknowledge our feelings and grieve our losses — and still be intentional about where we set our gaze.

I hope that, even in the midst of this storm, I can teach my daughter how to find beauty and focus on the positives in her life — because even in a pandemic, there is still plenty to be thankful for. 🖤

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Just days after graduating from Auburn University, Ericka took a trip to Africa that changed her life forever. She discovered two unexpected things there: a passion for orphan care, and her husband Rusty! Together they founded The Sound of Hope, and have spent the past 10+ years working to provide holistic care to vulnerable children around the world. Though her heart (and time) is divided between other countries – she’s proud to call Birmingham, Alabama home! When Ericka & Rusty decided to grow their family through adoption, they never guessed it would take five heart-wrenching years to get their daughter home from Thailand. These days Ericka tries to soak up every moment of long-awaited motherhood to their beautiful little girl, Kate. Their Thai darling is growing up way too fast, and Ericka is mildly obsessed with over-documenting it all on Instagram and her blog! In addition to managing The Sound of Hope, Ericka and her husband run a video & photography business called RJackson Media. In her “free time" (do moms have free time?!) Ericka enjoys gardening, decorating, and DIY projects. She also loves singing, dancing, and acting – and was cast in her very first musical theatre role last year. She firmly believes that you’re never too old to try something new!

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