Hand to Hold's Official Blog: Written by Parents for Parents

Off to School, Not Off My Mind

Jackson's first day of school

Jackson’s First Day of School

As usual, summer is passing by quickly. There must be something about the combination of bare feet, fresh cut grass, burgers on the grill and chlorine that speeds up time. Those Back to School shopping  commercials have already started and those upbeat tweens comparing sneakers and picking out their cool new school supplies make me hyperventilate. While I was a relatively good student, I always dreaded returning to the classroom. And the process with my kids is not much easier.

This year may have me breathing into a paper bag as we prepare for our oldest son to enter middle school. He is ready! I on the other hand am steadying myself to watch him board the bus for the first time. (He attended kindergarten through 5th grade at our neighborhood elementary school so there was no need for public transportation. And, I was able to postpone this heart palpitating moment for six years).

I know anxiety related to our child’s school experience is not exclusive to NICU graduate parents, but many of us do face additional stressors. We grapple with issues from finding trendy school clothes with the “just right” fit and feel for our kids with Sensory Integration Disorder to determining the appropriate dosage and administration schedule for ADHD and other medications. For many parents of preemies and kids born with special healthcare needs, going back to school entails much more than purchasing a new backpack and lunch box.

Many of us lose sleep over how our kids will be accepted by their new teachers and their peers. For parents of kids with learning or behavioral challenges, we know that the right teacher can mean the difference between a good year and a year filled with tears and frustration.

Since my kids first entered school I have worried if they were ready to meet the challenges of each academic year. From being “potty trained” for preschool to learning to read and pass spelling tests, I feel like I have spent a lot of time crouching, praying and holding my breath. Some challenges come with each new year but also amazing accomplishments. Our children handle it all in stride – learning and growing at their own pace.

As we prepare for the kick-off of our Preemie Power Campaign this year, I am reminded of how our NICU graduates continue to overcome obstacles and defy tremendous challenges. As their parents, it is our job to provide them with every opportunity for success. From advocating with teachers to ensuring our kids continue to receive needed therapies, tutoring and medical check-ups, we can make sure they have every chance to soar in school, at home and everywhere in-between.

I hope you will join us on Friday, August 24 for Hand to Hold’s Preemie Power Family Celebration  as we celebrate the amazing super hero qualities of all our children. Enjoy the remaining days of summer!

Kelli Kelley About Kelli Kelley

Founder, Hand to Hold - Kelli D. Kelley (TX) is the mother of two preemies – Jackson born at 24 weeks in 2000 and Lauren born at 34 weeks in 2003. She is the founder of Hand to Hold, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit dedicated providing support and navigation resources to families who had a preemie, who had a child in the NICU or with a special healthcare need, or who experienced loss. She has experienced the emotional fallout and isolation that having preemies often causes. As a direct result, Kelli has dedicated her life to offering hope and sanctuary to all parents who have had similar journeys. Contact her via email.

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