Should We Use A Different Acronym?

Even though we feel just as uncertain as everyone else at this juncture in the pandemic, we decided to go ahead with our usual back-to-school newsletter because people told us they were looking forward to it.

September marks eighteen months since the world at large became aware of Covid-19. It’s been a year and a half since most children got up, wiped sleep from their eyes, cereal milk from their chins, tied up runners, and headed out the door to a mask-free classroom. And who among us feels totally confident that things will be “normal” after Labour Day? Is a universally appealing assessment even possible? Surely we all want to get to the other side of this thing – the question is how?

One idea that we’ve had at Gifting Sense is that maybe we’re not using the right acronym. It’s not RTO (Return to Office) we’re working towards, it’s ATH (Advance to Hybrid). And in a hybrid world, as the name suggests, mixed parts of a prior reality come together to form something new. And maybe that something new can be just fine, or better yet, an improvement?

We know that things are complex right now. We understand that Covid isn’t the only looming challenge facing the globe. Yes, a restriction-free, in-person classroom setting would be ideal, as would being able to avoid the onset of any age-related infirmities. But in the absence of that paradise, how about a world where we accept that getting kids together in schools with whatever it takes to achieve that (e.g. masks, reduced activities), beats the heck out of one more week “home-alone” than necessary.

It’s been a long, messy, frustrating period for everyone. We all need the psychic equivalent of a nap and to be told that things are going to be OK. So let’s start doing just that. If we each employ a small amount of kindness, curiosity and generosity, we can get to the end of this thing with our souls intact.

One idea that we’ve had at Gifting Sense is that maybe we’re not using the right acronym. It’s not RTO (Return to Office) we’re working towards, it’s ATH (Advance to Hybrid). Back to school is supposed to be fun. It’s supposed to be the high season for fresh starts. Maybe we can get closer to that ideal by using a different acronym, one that underscores exciting new possibilities?

Small sighs of relief can add up to a collective wind in society’s sail if enough of us decide to support each other to the fullest extent possible throughout what remains of Covid-19.

To that end, here are the three things we’re going to be doing to uphold the idea that back-to-school remains the high season for fresh starts:

Be Kind. We’ve spent enough time in schools to know that the vast majority of administrators and teachers are working incredibly hard to get the ship back on course. So even when BTS communications fail to contain what people want to hear, the only practical response right now is to thank those involved for their efforts. Educators are navigating some of the roughest waters their workplace has seen in a generation. Similarly, when parents voice frustration about non-existent certainty, schools and activities need to appreciate their vital role in family life. If anyone can find a grain of positivity in this whole thing, it’s that people’s respect for teachers and stay-at-home parents is at an all-time high. New humans are the absolute best, but like everything worthwhile, children are a lot of work.

Be Curious, Not Judgemental. Ted Lasso nailed it when he quoted Walt Whitman and explained that being judgemental has nothing to do with the person being judged. When someone takes an approach you don’t understand, try to learn about what factors they used to make their decision. It’s virtually impossible to influence someone without at least a slice of commonality. The good news is, we really do have more in common than not, it just sometimes takes more effort than we enjoy to uncover. But the reward for that effort can be a path forward, and isn’t that what we all want right now?

Be As Generous As Possible. If there is any way at all you can help someone else, grab the chance. Picking up school supplies for your family or students? Is there anyone else who needs exactly what you do? Can spare them a trip to the store, or even the expense itself? Do you have gently used sports equipment another family would welcome? Is there a way to organize lunch-making within or amongst families so that time can be freed up on a weekly basis for other duties? Give your closest friends the gift of every-other Friday night by offering to corral their kids after school until bedtime, outside if that’s what you are most comfortable with.

Who are we to offer this dispatch? Gifting Sense is a small but committed organization that has taken on the problem of delivering engaging financial literacy to school-aged children. As a result, we witness the magic that takes place when everyone feels respected and understood. And we want that transformative feeling for as many citizens as possible again, soon!

Back to school is supposed to be fun. It’s supposed to be the high season for fresh starts. So maybe the first step is to use an acronym that underscores that tradition. Here’s to “Advancing to Hybrid”, and all the promise #ATH could entail, if we decide to let it.

If you want to know how we help children get ready for all of the personal finance decisions that lie in their future, please click on the pink or green buttons below.

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