How to prepare your child for the changes that go hand in hand with the end of the school year
Especially in international schools, the end of a year can be daunting. Changes, small and big, are just around the corner. And after a year with a lot of changes already, we need to prepare ourselves well.
By Annika Doornenbal, classroom teacher KG White
The first change in the summer break is not having a daily routine. Although this seems easy to adjust to at first, but as the weeks pass by, it is hard to not have a set routine. The structure that a school day provides helps children to get a grip on their day and time. Even though this year has given us some upheaval with the lockdown, a routine always helps. At home you could help by having a visual schedule up per day or week to help them manage expectations.
Another major change is not seeing all your friends every day. A school is a place of learning and development, but it also is one of the most social places your child visits, especially in these corona times. Having playdates with your peers is a great way to keep that going. Although for many children, not having to be social each and every day gives them a nice break and provides them with some time for introspection.
Moving grade, school or country.
For some of our students the summer comes with an even a bigger change as they are moving grade, school or country. These changes are both exciting and sad at the same time and there should be time to recognise all of these feelings.
Building a ‘RAFT’
We like to build a ‘RAFT’ when saying goodbye, whether it’s changing grade, school or country. This is a practice from a book called Third Culture Kids, written by Pollock and van Reken (2010).
We talk to our friends about anything that is still bothering us, if there is any. In addition we are trying to be okay with the fact that a change is coming.
Discuss what you loved about a place and thank people for being there for them by making cards and little ‘thank you’s’.
Taking a moment to say your farewells. Creating moments for this, for example by organising a goodbye party, helps.
4. Think destination.
Planning for our next place, what will it look like? What are your expectations? What will be hard and what are you excited about?
How can you help your child?
In each class, we take a moment to realise the year is coming to an end and that this means different things for all of us. The best way to help your child is to talk to them about the changes that are coming up. We do the same in class. In KG White we take a moment to talk about what next year will look like before our bridging day. We ask questions like:
Who will go to grade 1? Who will move to another school or another country? Who will stay in KG? Which of your friends are leaving? How do all these changes make you feel? Is there something you want to say to your friends before the year ends? What are ways that you can stay in touch even if your friend is in another class, school or country? Do you want to stay in touch? What is exciting about your new place? Which new friends will you make?
One of the benefits of a corona year is that kids have learned how they can use technology to stay in touch with their friends. We can take this new skill to keep our friends close. At home, you can make a plan with your children on how they would like to deal with the change.
One thing is sure, we all need to say goodbye this year, whether it is to a friend moving, to your teacher for the summer break or if you are moving yourself. Discuss or speak to your child about how they will say their goodbyes. What will it look like? How will they feel? Will it be in school, or will you see your friends for the last time at a playdate? And what happens after you say goodbye?
A new year always brings in new energy. Challenges lay ahead and a good summer break can prepare us for those challenges. I look forward to starting a new year after the summer and wish everyone the best on their journeys!