The end of the school year brings the expected joy at finishing another year, and perhaps some sadness at leaving behind a year filled with great experiences, teachers, and friends. Consider that this may be a bittersweet time for your child, and help him celebrate as you ease any anxiety associated with the end-of-school days.
Communicate and Connect
The daily life and structure of school your child has grown used to is about to end. She may be simply overjoyed to enter the free and easy days of summer, but more likely, she is probably experiencing some nervousness about leaving the familiar world of school. Will she see her friends over the summer? Will she ever see her teacher again? She may even already be worried about the unfamiliar name she's heard teaches the next grade.
- Let your child know that he doesn't have to feel unequivocally happy about school ending even though his classmates may seem through-and-through ecstatic about the prospect of summer vacation. Relate a personal story about a time you were sad to leave school, or ask him to tell you what he'll miss about being in school.
- Help your child keep in touch with classmates. Ask her which friends she'd like to keep seeing over the summer, and gather contact information for them. Before school is out, arrange some summer playdates for her so she knows that she can look forward to seeing her class friends weeks after school ends. If your older child has an email account, encourage her to keep in touch by computer.
- If your child is attached to his teacher, have him write an end-of-year thank-you letter or card, or create some other kind of remembrance. Working on the project will help him feel connected to his teacher, and he'll appreciate the idea of giving something that will last beyond his attendance in class.
- Finally, if your child is anxious about a new building or new grade, try to arrange a visit while this year's still in session. If that's not possible, schedule a time during the summer to make the trip or find out if there will be an orientation. Letting your child know that she doesn't have to walk into a new situation sight-unseen will help ease first-day-back worries.
Celebrations and Closure
Your child's school probably has an assortment of end-of-school activities and celebrations. Encourage her to take part in rituals and parties so she can gain a sense of closure and accomplishment while commiserating with her peers about feelings concerning the end of school. Don't forget to tell her yourself how proud you are! If your child is graduating from elementary to middle school or finishing junior high, have a special celebration to commemorate the event.
- Spend time remembering the year with your child. Consider making a scrapbook of memories or remembering and writing down some of the year's major events and accomplishments. To get him started, have him write a letter to himself, telling his September self about what it's like to be finishing school now. For some great ideas of how to make this time special and fun, check out this list of five ways to celebrate at home.
- Finally, remember that however your child does on her report card, it is vital to praise and encourage all she has learned and how she has changed over the year.