The countdown is on! Summer is just around the corner, and the anticipation is palpable in classrooms. But let’s face it, even with the excitement about summer break, change can be challenging for young learners. The ambiguity surrounding an unfamiliar teacher and grade, new expectations, or even a different building can stir up unsettling emotions. It’s important to acknowledge the unease in order to nurture a student’s positive outlook on the upcoming school year. Purposeful time for reflection and exploration integrated into your classroom’s celebrations will help mitigate students’ worries.
As the school year winds down, celebrations are aplenty. It’s the perfect time to come together to punctuate the year’s successes and growth. It’s also a pivotal time to encourage students to express their feelings and connect over shared experiences -celebrating all the joyful moments and discussing potential apprehension about the next chapter further easing the transition into summer.
As educators, we know that students who are given space to reflect on their progress and supported in naming complex feelings gain a strong sense of self. With that, the promotion of student reflection fosters their sense of security, an important tenet of self-confidence and resilience. Ask students to reflect on the year and share their favorite memories with the class.
- What are their highs and lows?
- What are their strengths? What were their challenges?
- What are they looking forward to?
- How are they feeling about the next grade level?
The ability to openly articulate and discuss emotions with each other actively reduces trepidation around the transition into summer and the school year ahead. The safe place you create in the classroom is not only instrumental in diminishing any unease; it allows learners to feel more connected to their peer community in turn, better equipped to confidently brave change and explore new environments.
Practicing a transition routine can alleviate student angst, too. If possible, help your students familiarize themselves with new settings by touring the new grade level and introducing the new teachers. Removing some of the year's unpredictability further nurtures safety, a basic need necessary to go confidently in a new direction.
Classroom projects are a special way to preserve memories and elevate a student’s sense of pride. The opportunity to come together one last time for meaningful connection highlights the unique student voice while building self-confidence in children to take on the next steps in a learner’s academic career. Help your class bridge the transition into the next school year and support reflection with collective projects that celebrate a student’s peer community.
- Collect items for a classroom time capsule
- Create a legacy art piece
- Write letters of gratitude to school staff
- Take a class photo and print a copy for all students
- Have students sign their names and/or write a note to each other around the photo
So, let’s close the chapter on this school year with a little help from our expert of change, Fox. A Heart Full of Feelings activity with Fox bolsters a student’s resiliency to confidently welcome change and navigate all emotions - big and small. Students are encouraged to explore a range of feelings to end the school year on a positive note.
Find more activities to support your classroom below:
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Author: Heidi Uhrich, NCC, School Counselor
Slumberkins, Community Relations Coordinator