The close of the school year can be a joyful time—the many end-of-year events are opportunities to celebrate all the learning and growth that has taken place, as well as the new friendships that have been forged. It can also be a challenging time of transition—especially for children who may be moving away over the summer and changing schools.
Children in the upper elementary and middle school years manage transitions like these in different ways. Some kids navigate this time more easily than others, but it is not uncommon for them to feel anxiety and/or sadness when faced with saying goodbye to their school, friends, and favorite teachers.
Tips for Parents
Luckily, there are things that you as a parent can do to help your child with the change. Here are some suggestions from Malikkah Rollins, MSW, Lowell’s school counselor:
- Check in with your child periodically to see how they are feeling about the change. Also, be aware that children sometimes express their feelings in behavioral changes, rather than in words.
- If you experienced a school change growing up, share with your child how you coped.
- Don’t forget that children absorb their parents’ anxiety, so be aware of your own feelings around the change and try to separate your feelings from your child’s.
- If your child is nervous, you can remind them that it is normal to feel this way during a period of change.
- Slip notes of encouragement into your child’s lunchbox or backpack.
- If you need more help in the final weeks of the school year, reach out to school professionals like the school psychologist or counselor.
- Take pictures of special people and the school your child is leaving. Concrete reminders like these make great mementos!
- Promise to stay in touch with friends and families from the school your child is leaving. If you are planning a move, you can use email, Facetime, or Skype. If you are staying in your local area, schedule play dates with school friends over the summer.
- Schedule play dates with friends outside of school, too. If you are moving, consider enrolling your child in a camp in your new community to facilitate building new friendships.
- Hopefully, there are things your child is looking forward to at the new school—ask your child about them.
Check out this follow-up blog post about helping your child enter the new school—we have more tips and resources to help you through the next phase of the transition!