Helping Students Get Closure When the School Year Ends

graphic that says You don't need strength to let go of something. what you ready need is understanding

Normally, the end of the school year brings a lot of excitement. It is summertime and that means games, leisure, and relaxation! However, it’s also important to remember that your children may be feeling sad or worried about leaving their friends, teachers and routine behind.

This is true now more than ever as we close out this the school year, which included many challenging situations for students and teachers alike. We recognize that the transition through this year, coupled with the end of school may create some anxiety for our students. Indeed, unanticipated change or disruption to routine is one of the leading causes of anxiety for children. With so many elements of this year being truly unanticipated, it’s very important to get closure.

Getting closure means that your child can head into summer feeling happy and settled. It will give them space to talk about any concerns they have for the next year and reflect on their progress and development over the previous months.

In order to support everyone’s transition to the summer holidays, we have developed some ideas for parents to help their children get closure as they end this school year

1) Look Back and Reflect

It’s important for children and families to connect with what has happened over the year in order to gain closure. Advice from Dr. Mills mentions that parents should focus on communicating with their children to let them know that their progress and hard work has been acknowledged. Reflect on that progress with them in a set session. You can do this by looking back at photos, class books, journals, videos, and projects. Ask them how they feel about the pictures and the things they’ve made. Would they do something differently now? How would they tackle the same project?

Here are some example questions to ask your children in a reflection session:

  • What did you learn this year?
  • What did you enjoy most about the year?
  • What challenges did you overcome?
  • How did you help other people?
  • My favorite classroom activity this year was ____ because ____
  • My favorite subject this year was_____

2) Keep in Touch

Quality friendships are very important for your child’s wellbeing, studies show. Socializing will help your child to gain closure from the school year and remain positive and well. Here are some tips for supporting your children to keep in touch with their friends:

  • Make sure your child gets the contact information of their friends.
  • Set up scheduled times when your kids can get together in person or online.
  • If your kids are meeting up with friends virtually, encourage games. You can find some great examples of games for children to play over video chat online. Some great ideas are virtual charades, Pictionary and I Spy. For a more relaxed virtual-meet up, try coloring together.

3) Celebrate the End of the Year

Your child’s class may very well be having an end-of-year celebration. If that’s a virtual celebration, try organizing a video call beforehand so that your child and their best friend can talk about the school year and what they enjoyed most. Whether it’s online or in-person, encourage your child to jump in with all the celebrations! Ask questions after about their favorite parts of the celebration and what they liked most about their year in that class.

4) Get Creative

Think about some ways that you and your child can reflect on the year while creating something new. Here are some ideas:

  • Work with your child to make a top 10 list of the things they’ve learned this year. Think about field trips, lessons, activities, and practical tasks they’ve completed. Talk the ideas through and decide what was special enough to make it on to the top 10 list.
  • Create a time capsule for all your child’s memories from the school year. Find a container or a shoe box and decorate it, making sure they put their name, the date and school year on the top. Put items in that are linked to specific projects, classes, or school memories. To get ideas for what to put in, ask your child to reflect on what they’d think if they found this box in a few years’ time. What would they remember most? What items would best represent that?
  • Make a journal of the last year. Buy a new blank notebook, and work with your child to print out pictures and write stories of the things they’ve done and achieved. Ask specific questions about their favorite classes, the best things they learned and their favorite school activities they did.

5) Leave a Letter to the Next Class

Encourage your children to make notes about their year to give to next year’s class. These can be virtually sent in to the teacher, and are a great way to help kids look back and reflect, while acknowledging they’re moving on. The note could include:

  • Tips about what’s to come for the younger schoolmates.
  • What your child learned in their time this year.
  • What they wish they’d known on their first day.

Have fun decorating the letter and make a great activity out of it.

6) Restructure Your Day Together

Work with your child to create a plan of new activities you can do over the summer holidays. Ask what they miss most about being in school and then try to cater activities and ideas to that. For example, think about sports, drama, art and play time and work this into their day to day schedule.

In order to give your child the best start to their summer, remember to take the time to check in with them about the school year and organize activities to keep them entertained and actively engaged. You and your children can keep connected with AISG through Twitter (@aisgz), the American International School of Guangzhou Facebook and our Instagram (aisgzram). We look forward to seeing you next year!

Resources and References

https://www.familyeducation.com/school/anxiety-disorders/how-prepare-your-anxious-child-last-day-school

https://confidentparentsconfidentkids.org/2018/05/17/bringing-closure-to-the-school-year/

https://teach.com/blog/looking-ahead-eight-tips-for-successful-closure-to-the-school-year/

https://www.businessinsider.sg/how-to-help-children-feel-closure-last-day-of-school-2020-4

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/283672244_Children's_Friendships_and_Positive_Well-Being

https://www.andnextcomesl.com/2020/04/zoom-games-for-kids.html

https://www.edutopia.org/blog/celebrating-end-of-school-year-vicki-davis


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