Surviving the Final Six Weeks: It’s Not Over Yet!

No more pencils,
No more books,
No more teachers’ dirty looks

Alice Cooper looked forward to summer break for many reasons, unfortunately some of our own kids do not respond to that long awaited break with the same rock-n-roll angst.

School is almost out for summer, and as an instructional specialist in an elementary school and a mother of two, I am surrounded by excitement, fear, anxiety and burnout all day long during this time of the year.

Just this week, students are coming into school in tears and on edge in response to the smallest things. Teachers are burnt-out, they have given all their energy and time to their students, they can see the light at the end of the tunnel, but the year is not over and the all-important state tests have not even started.

Why are they so emotional?

Many of our children (especially mine) thrive on the structure that school brings that summer just does not have. Monday through Friday, their friends surround them and adults talk with them, listen to them, read to them, and play with them. School also provides, for many of my students, two hot meals a day. Sometimes the stress of knowing just one of those things might go away can bring on anxiety.

My son cannot handle change very well, he relies on a schedule; over the summer, he will wake up and create our ‘To Do’ List every morning and if I veer off that schedule he will call me out on it.

The end of the school year transition can bring many unwanted emotions that can be difficult to deal with. My advice is:

Do Not Ignore It

Acknowledge this time of year as difficult for all of us. Talk about the feelings that it is bringing to your child or student. What we see on the surface of each of our children is just the ‘tip of the iceberg’. Allow your child to express how they are feeling. When we ask our children to deny their emotions or we belittle their feelings the ‘iceberg’ can flip- beneath the surface becomes visible. In return, we get tantrums, tears, lashing out, or other harmful responses.

I suggest talking to them about the memories they have had from school. Talk to them about what they are looking forward to next year, during the summer break, and set goals. One of my friends creates a Summer Bucket List with her daughters. I actually just printed one off from TheBestIdeasForKids.com, and we have it hanging proudly next to our calendar. https://www.thebestideasforkids.com/?s=summer+bucket+list

Here are a few more tips on finishing the school year strong…

1. Set goals with your student:

This is the time of year that state testing and reading level assessments become the classroom focus, but also a time of year when behaviors in the classroom start to get a little uncharacteristic. Set a goal with them AND help them create a plan of action to help reach that goal.

2. Update the Merch:

I am so guilty about this. My first grader’s binder is torn to pieces, and I have been promising him I would get him a new 3-ring binder. Even his shorts and pants are too short- he has grown so much this year, it is difficult to keep up. The school year is nearing the end, but his supplies and his SWAG do not need to look as defeated as I am feeling which can create a mindset that “the year is over, so who cares.” *It won’t hurt to send a few store bought pencils or Lysol wipes to the classroom teacher either at this time* (I am sure they will provide your child with a little extra love and care that day as well)

3. Lead by Example:

I will be honest, some days after work the couch, a glass of vino, and Netflix are all calling my name. Unfortunately, there is still homework; there are still goals we all want to reach – ABC’s for Henry, Math facts for Charles. If I talk about how excited I am about summer break, then their tenacity and focus gets depleted. Keep first things, first. I have to remember summer will come, but if I keep talking about it, if I keep thinking about it- the anxiety will get to all of us.

4. Routine:

Keep the routine, especially in the morning. At the beginning of the school year, it is easier to start your morning off early, maybe workout, throw lunches together, and eat breakfast together. Toward the end of the year, snoozing a few more times, a few extra minutes won’t hurt, right? WRONG! The moment you start to rush, is the moment your child begins to stress.

The most important thing to remember is to keep calm, talk about the transition and the important emotions that come with it.

** Original text by Aubrey Steinbrink. Aubrey is an Intervention Specialist at an elementary school in North Texas, avid education advocate, and mother to two young boys. Aubrey writes for her own blogs Teachingthetoughstuff.blog & Omnivore2herbivore.blog

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