I don’t know what it’s like for every parent, but for me, after Spring Break finishes, my head moves toward summer planning. I’m pretty sure that I’m not the only one who is tempted to forget the moment we are in. For our kids who are in school, we need to help them stay engaged right up to the last day.
Now, you might think, “Last day? Seriously? There isn’t any learning that goes on in the last month of school, let alone the last day.”
Well, you could be right, if you are thinking only about academics (and even then that probably isn’t true). With final testing happening at the beginning of June, there may not be the feeling of pressure that we think is necessary to motivate our kids to learn. But academic learning is not the only learning that happens.
So how can we get the most out of these last few months of school?
Work on forgiving at school
You have some 8 months each year of your kid making friends, losing friends; liking his teacher and then being offended by his teacher. Eight months offer much opportunity to practice forgiveness
Three kinds of people who may need forgiving:
- Friends and classmates
You can prevent your child from sailing into summer still holding onto the bitterness of hurts, failures, and embarrassments. Helping them work through forgiveness will allow them the freedom of spending the last few months of school let go of those things, and release them to summer with a peaceful heart.
Work on repairing relationships at school
Let’s be honest, your kid was probably part of the problem at least a few times throughout the year. Maybe there was a friendship that went sour and instead of handling it well, they wrote a nasty note. Or maybe they got more than their share of yellow slips at recess, trips to the principal’s office, late assignments or detentions.
Again, wouldn’t it be great if your kid could go into summer without the regret of being a bit of a wiener for much of the year?
Here are some relationships you may want to help them repair in these last few months of school:
- Their BUS DRIVER!
- A challenging classmate
You could do all sorts of things to help repair things. From a simple, “I’m sorry and I’m going to try to end the year right.” Even a note or small gift for a teacher goes a long way to repairing damage.
Work on building great memories at school
School is hard for a lot of kids; both academically for relationally. One of the powerful things about leaving some of the pressure of academic learning behind and having field game days and movie afternoons is that it gets kids playing and laughing. Laughter and play are wonderful for building the kinds of memories that will help temper the trials and tribulations of grade school.
I’m sometimes tempted to just keep the kids home on days that are “just” field game days, but that is robbing them of ending the year with laughter. And the thing is if I want my kids to look forward to starting school again in fall, help them make warm memories when they leave for summer.
(Here’s a little parenthetical “case and point.” Do you have kids who “can’t wait to get back to school” after summer ends? I’m willing to be that the reason is rarely that they are just so ready to start learning again. And I’m also willing to bet that even the most academically adverse kid looks forward to at least one aspect of school; friends! So that’s my proof! Kids often communicate mixed emotions about going back to school; mixed because they may not love learning but they love the relational aspect of school. Boom. Thom is right.)
Work on transitions to the next grade
The last thing we should work on in the last two months is anticipating the transition to summer and to the next grade. Is your kid worried about transitioning to middle school? If so, while the school tour with their class will definitely help, it might not be enough. Perhaps as a parent, you can arrange a few after-school visits to just help your child get used to the new lay of the land.
Maybe you can find a neighbour kid who can give a bit of a different tour than the “official” one. (Like, “Don’t use that urinal… it stinks worse than the others.” Or “Make sure you don’t sit in that area of the cafeteria, that’s where the mean kids like to sit.”) This is critical intel for any kid moving to a new class or school. And remember, knowledge is power! So we should arm our kids with knowledge about the place where they will spend the next year.
My point in all of this is simple; don’t waste the last few months of school. There is plenty to be done, right up to the last hour of the last day!
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Associate Pastor – Southland Church
Thom has worked with children and youth for 18 years. He and his wife, Tara, have 7 kids; 4 boys, and two daughters and a SON-IN-LAW(!). The kids are spread across 23 years too so that gives him plenty of experimental material to write about! They have welcomed 31 foster children into their home over the past number of years.