Many students and teachers are heading back to school this fall with their books, backpacks and several years' worth of experience adjusting to the pitfalls that the pandemic threw their way.
One Massachusetts mom took a lesson she learned during that time and turned it into something that helps kids face daily challenges. Her effort has caught the attention of school districts.
"Complete chaos," Katie Wood said. "Like it was for most moms."
Wood is just being honest. The Canton mother of four and former teacher is recalling how she felt when the pandemic shut school buildings down.
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But she discovered something during that time — her habit of spending a few minutes every day calming that chaos by journaling was being watched.
"One day, my second daughter came down and asked how she could have special mornings, too. It hit me at that moment, why, if I knew this was a gift and advantage of life, why am I not teaching my kids this?" she asked.
So she started giving them exercises, and two years later, they turned into a book, "A Simple Seed."
As the pages turn, those seeds grow. Kids tackle the five-minute daily lessons, ideally each morning.
"There are 100 entries; there's a life lesson that's short and sweet; gratitude, where we're really trying to teach kids to focus on what they already have to be grateful for," said Wood.
The journal is tested each morning by her daughters.
"You feel good, and you have good vibes and then you give them off to other people," said her oldest daughter, Austyn.
"I feel better because sometimes, I wake up really frustrated," said the youngest, Gabby
And teachers are joining the growing list of readers.
"There's always a cute little joke that fourth graders and other elementary kids think is really funny," said teacher Cheryl Cunningham. "We read and kind of get a nice giggle to start the day with a laugh and a smile."
Cunningham tested a prototype of the book in her Canton Public School classroom last year.
"It was just amazing," she said. "I had no idea what to expect and the kids just really loved it."
The district is now considering using the book in all classrooms.
"If my family needed it, probably a lot of families needed it, especially coming off COVID and how much that affected kids mentally," said Wood.
That's the case no matter where they are in the world, it seems. A chance encounter on vacation in Anguilla led Wood and her husband to meet with school officials about using the book in classrooms there.
Regardless of what comes this school year, kids will have the roots to stand through it all.
"Life is going to constantly throw curveballs, and if we can set them up to know that, they can figure anything out in life," Wood said. "I really think that's one of the best gifts we can give our kids."
She is working on similar journals for adults and athletes.
Through a sponsorship, hundreds of copies of the book were sent to the Uvalde Public School District in Texas so students in the district can each have a free copy.