The school year is in winding down and classes are becoming less structured on lessons and more focused on summer, end-of-the-year parties, and outdoor days. This time can be very exciting and fun, however it may also feel chaotic, unpredictable, and even sad for some children; children who are uncomfortable with change, children who have had a very successful school year and may anticipate a new school year with upsets, and children who may be switching schools for varying reasons.
The following are tips to help prepare your child for the inevitable end-of-the-school-year:
- Let your child know that it is OKAY that he/she feels this way, and that you understand. Normalizing and validating their feelings about the uncertain time ahead will hopefully take away any additional unpleasant emotions they are feeling, such as embarrassed or ashamed of themselves for being sad when the school year is over, when other kids may seem excited.
- If possible, relate to your child. Tell them about a time where you experienced some fear, sadness, or discomfort during a time where a similar change was about to occur. Hearing that their parent/caregiver has experienced the same, or similar, situation, and has turned out just fine, will be comforting to them. They will not feel so alone.
- Invite your child to discuss or journal about moments that stuck out from the school year they are about to complete. If they have a difficult time coming up with these moments, help with reminders such as “remember when you sang in the school chorus for the holiday concert?” and encourage them to share about their feelings about the moment.
- Create a list, or visual of some sort with your child as a place for them to write or draw out some of their hopes for the next school year. Encourage them to think about academic, social, or personal goals and hopes they can look forward to working towards.
- Discuss and prepare him/her for summer plans. Whether your child is going to day camp, overnight camp, summer school, vacation, tennis lessons etc., make sure that your child knows what is coming up for the summer, and any special plans that the family may have. If feasible, make one or two special plans that your child can look forward to, such as a trip to the special museum they enjoy–on a sweltering hot day–or anything special they would appreciate.