Watching the Clouds Float By

Upward: Our Head of School's Blog
Recently, I have had numerous conversations with parents who are very apprehensive about their children experiencing setbacks, failure, loss or even frustration with an academic, social or emotional situation.  As we transition into summer break, I want to offer a few brief insights into calming that apprehension and anxiety, while allowing your children the luxury of summer experiences most of us enjoyed in another time and place.

In my humble opinion, too many children are over-scheduled, over-supervised, over-protected, over… over… over… to the point that they run the risk of what my friend Roy Parker calls the “perils of perfectionism.”  In his upcoming book, The Next Right Thing, he advises, “Be careful with the subtleties of perfectionism. After all, children, and their parents, will learn most from their mistakes.”

My summers were spent running to the park to play baseball, endless hours climbing the apple tree in the back field, building tree houses, walking in muddy streams, riding my bike literally everywhere, hanging out with my friends for hours--sometimes just doing nothing. Just before sunset, my father would whistle for me to come home for dinner. That’s the same father who said to me on numerous occasions, “Mike, the secret to true success is to fail early and to fail often.”  Needless to say, I have embraced his paradoxical advice!

In Wendy Mogel’s wonderful book, The Blessing of a Skinned Knee, she asks parents many provocative and insightful questions.  “Does your child get enough time to horse around?  To make noise?  To get into trouble?  To break things?”  Dr. Mogel contends that all children need a messy, unstructured, unproductive free-for-all every now and then!

So, as you head off on your summer experiences and journeys, enjoy the precious moments you have with your families. Release your children from the pressures of modern life, unplug their digital devices, clear their schedules, turn off their televisions, and let them simply lay in the grass to watch the clouds float by.

Have a terrific summer break!

About Vail Mountain School

Founded in 1962, Vail Mountain School is a K-12, coed, independent school in Vail, Colorado. Our philosophy is to provide a demanding, college preparatory, liberal arts education in an atmosphere of mutual respect between faculty and students, where nurturing a healthy self-concept and stimulating academic inquiry are parallel objectives. Intentionally designed cross-age programs promote role modeling, responsibility, self confidence, and a sense of community. Our location in the Rocky Mountains allows us to integrate the outdoors into the academic and cultural fabric of the school through hut trips, all-school Ski Fridays, and other experiential learning opportunities. The result: our graduates possess a quiet confidence that serves them well in college and in life—confidence to assert themselves in their first college level essays; to raise their hand in a class of hundreds; to live on their own for the first time, to meet with and engage their professors; and to lead among their peers.