There is a common misconception amongst parents and students that when it comes to school, June is a write off. While I can’t argue that things definitely start to slow down during the last month of school, I still think that looking at June as a time-filler/killer isn’t the best habit to get into.
As students get older, the demands in June often get larger as they will soon begin to write exams and be required to complete year end assignments and projects. Quite often, these assessments are weighted quite heavily, so performing well on them is key to receiving a good grade. It is because of these increased expectations that I think its important that we don’t get into the habit of treating the month of June as a bridge to summer vacation.
Instead, June can be seen as a transitional period that allows students to look back and reflect on their school year while at the same time, look forward to next. As parents, we can help them to do this by providing some guidance and support in a few different areas.
1 – Help them to Reflect
Often times we start looking ahead way too quickly and forget about what our children have learned over the past ten months of school. While it is exciting to find out whose class your child will be in next year and which friends they’ll be with, we can’t forget to spend some time celebrating our child’s successes from the past year.
The benefit of this is twofold as it not only allows your child to recognize and acknowledge their growth, whether it be academically, socially, etc., but it also helps create room for conversation about next steps to take.
Celebrating successes is one of the most important things we can do with our children when it comes to school because we need to ensure that they know that there is value in the hard work they put into school. I work with teenagers everyday, and I can say with much certainty that the number one factor that impacts their success in high school is the engagement and ownership they have with their education. The ones who have that ownership are the ones who know that there is value in the work that they do, and it is often communicated that their parents are the ones who have instilled that value in them.
2 – Help Consider Next Steps
I’m big on goal setting. In fact, you can read some of my thoughts on the subject in my Helping Your Child with Goal Setting piece that I previously posted. When it comes to goal setting for the next school year, I fully believe that it should happen right as the previous school year ends. The reason for this is that students are more likely to be in tune with what they want to learn/improve on when they are in that mindset already. By the time August/September rolls around, they may have a hard time identifying academic goals simply because they haven’t thought about school in almost two months.
It’s also important that you record the goals so that you and your child can re-visit them before school starts. This way you can review them and see if the goals are still appropriate because a lot can change over the summer. For instance, two years ago my son had identified that he wanted to be able to read chapter books as a goal for grade 2. However, by the end of summer, he was reading chapter books independently and so we were able to adjust and refocus some of his goals for the upcoming year.
3 – Come up with a Plan for Summer
Just because school ends doesn’t mean learning has to. I don’t want to come off as sounding like I make my kids do school work all summer (I don’t, I promise), but I do think that it’s important for them to maintain some sort of light academic schedule. Whether it’s a bit of reading, math, or another area of interest (let them decide), it’s never a bad idea to dedicate some of their time to skill development over the summer. Read this article for a Summer Planner.
If nothing else, it will at least make the transition back to school a little less drastic. If you’re looking for resources to use at home, consider looking online for activities and worksheets or pick up a curriculum workbook that covers a variety of subjects. You can also talk to their current teacher, who may be able to provide some relevant materials that will help prepare for the next grade.
4 – Connect with This Year’s Teacher
In a lot of cases, the last time parents see their child’s teacher is at the last parent/teacher conference in the spring. I feel that it is super important to touch base with the teacher one last time, before the end of the year, and I believe so for three main reasons:
A – To discuss the progress that’s been made since the last conference. Often times, a couple months has gone by since the last meeting and a lot can change in that time. Give the teacher a chance to tell you great things about your child.
B – So they can give you some insight on what your child could work on/build upon in order to get ready for the next grade.
C – To say thank you. This one is just a personal thing for me, but if you can, thank them. I know that a lot of kids and parents like to give gifts at the end of the year, but for me, I would take a thank you email over a gift every time. Just between you and me, I’m going to let you in on a little secret…teachers are pretty insecure. Well, at least I am, and a thank you from a parent or student means so much more to me than any gift because it validates the work that I’m doing. Hearing that parents are happy with me and the job I’m doing with their kids always gives me a bit of a boost heading into summer, so if your child’s teacher deserves your thanks, consider letting them know.
One More Thing to Consider – Salvage the Supplies
At my school, locker clean-up is like Christmas. I am often able to replenish my classroom stock of pens, markers, paper, and other supplies just by standing near the garbage can. At the end of the year, students feel that they have no more use of these items and I am more than willing to take them off their hands. Talk to your children about the importance of taking these items home so that they can reuse them if they’re able to. Some common items that get discarded but are easily reusable are:
Pens & Pencils
Indoor Shoes – sometimes all they need is a clean and some new shoelaces and they can be used as outdoor shoes for the summer or fall.
Geometry Sets and Rulers
If you can gather these items up at the end of the year and put them to use later on, you may be able to save yourself a little money when you have to go back to school shopping.
There is no doubt that every school year for our children brings about new experiences, new successes, and new challenges. If we can take some time to acknowledge and appreciate the things they have accomplished as well as help plan for what’s to come, our children will continue to be engaged and excited about their education.