Parents all over are preparing children for school.  For some, children will be going to back to the classroom and some will be learning online. Whatever method, now is the time to strengthen the Four Pillars of Security– just remember P.P.R.R. (People, Places, Routines, Rituals)


Even old friends may seem like new people after being apart for many, many months. Social skills may be a bit rusty and feelings a bit sensitive. Children will meet new teachers and classmates. Maintaining consistency with the core group of people will provide children with needed emotional support.  For children, separating from mom or dad may be a bit tough. Let’s be honest, it may be a bit tough on parents, too.  Prepare children and parents in advance by attending meet-the-teacher (in person or online) or meeting neighbors attending the same school.  People may be a Pillar that is a bit shaky for a while but quickly getting into the rhythm of the school year will help.


The places may change. Children may be entering a new school or childcare or you may be new to the area. This Pillar may be a work in progress just like People. Having a “home base” where children can feel safe and recharge after a long school day is a basic need (remember Maslow?).  Whether there are one or two homes, it is important for children to have a place (and people) that are stable.  This brings up to the next Pillar…


Daily routines and appropriate boundaries say “safety” to children.  Practice and preparation help strengthen this Pillar and can help relieve the first day of school jitters. A big routine is getting ready for school each day. Talk about or role play what it will be like getting ready for school (dressing, backpacks, riding in a car or school bus, safely walking into school, practicing logging in to the learning platform). Routines teach children life skills of initiative, self-confidence and mastery.  When children know what to do and when to do it there is less need for reminders and nagging.  Checklist are great for older children and picture schedules are terrific for the young ones or children with Autism Spectrum Disorder . Parents are still there to help (yes, tying shoes can be tricky!) but learning starts at home.  There is a difference between daily routines and rituals. Check it out…


Remember to celebrate! The Pillar of Rituals is how families celebrate, remember, and gather. This past year, big rituals were often on Zoom or drive-by parades. Empathy and flexibility bring people together for meaningful rituals and it’s not necessarily about a date on calendar.  Strong Rituals for holidays, birthdays and rites of passage can be different for each family.  Comparing and contrasting makes our world a bit bigger and more diverse.  Remember the annual ritual of celebrating the 100th day of school? It will be here before you know it!

Summing It Up

The Four Pillars can apply in other areas of life not just getting ready for school. Think of how many times there has been a shake-up in any one of these Pillars. Keep in mind that Pillars can be reinforced at any time.

Need Support?

Dr. Pam Rinn, PhD provides marriage and family therapy for families and children who are struggling. She has:

  • experience as a trainer for child care agencies,
  • education in play therapy, Dialectical Behavioral Therapy, and Trust Based Relational Intervention, and
  • certification as An Autism Spectrum Disorder Clinical Specialist.

These all work together to help her know just how to support your family. Acorn provides evidence based, Christian systemic trauma informed counseling throughout the lifespan. Schedule with us today!

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