Completing the school year is a mark of achievement to all age groups of students. Celebrations, goodbyes, final grades, and final projects are just a few of the milestones that mark this yearly occurrence. Unfortunately, COVID-19 has taken that away from all students this school year.
What is a transition?
A transition is defined by NAEYC as, “when children move from one activity to another.” These are important because they help children move between activities, from one routine to another, and in terms of school, transitions help with movement from one grade to another and from one school year to another.
According to Head Start, Early Childhood Learning and Knowledge Center, “All transitions involve changes for children and families, and every transition presents opportunities and challenges.” It can be especially hard for pre-kindergarten and elementary aged students to understand and accept that school is over for the year. Due to school stopping so abruptly, because of the pandemic, there was not an appropriate transition for students, making it very difficult for them to wrap their heads around their new normal.
Now that summer is approaching and the traditional end of the school year in most states, it’s the perfect time to create that transition for your child or children.
How can you create an end of school year transition from home?
Below are a few ideas to help you design a mock last week of school from home, which will help children move from school year to summer and transition them from one grade to another.
1) Spirit Days - Depending upon the age of your child, spirit weeks are common towards the end of a school year. Create your own spirit week at home with a theme for each day and take pictures marking those themes. Some common themes are; school colors day, decade day, hat day, pajamas day, royalty day, and so many more.
2) Assemblies - One of the most fun parts about the end of a school year are special assemblies. Most children are given awards during this time frame for attendance and grades, and sometimes each class may perform a song together or show off some of the neat things they have learned. Create your own awards at home using the templates on Microsoft Word or create a free account on Canva and search templates for certificates. Next, allow your children the freedom to choose what they want to showcase from their year of learning and plan an assembly at the end of the week.
3) Goodbyes - Saying farewell to teachers, friends, and school staff is a common way to close out the school year. Ask your child to either write out goodbye letters, record a goodbye video to teachers and friends, or schedule a video conference with teachers and classmates that would allow this goodbye to take place.
4) Looking Forward - Looking forward is not as easy as it once was. Some school districts and preschool programs might know what the fall plans are but some might not. Try to stick with the knowns such as you’re going to be a kindergartener next year! You can do a lot of “wondering” together. I wonder which friends you’ll see in your class next year. I wonder who will be the teacher.
5) Make Plans for Summertime - Brainstorm and create a summer bucket list. Create two lists that approach what summer might look like during the quarantine and what summer would be like without social distancing. Ask children to draw or write down things they would like to do this summer and make a plan. Print out this bucket, add your family’s summer bucket list, and put it up in your house so you can check off things from your list throughout the summer.
Transitioning to summer is a fun time for all pre-kindergarten and school-age kids. However, when they do not have the opportunity to mark the end of a school year with traditional activities, it can be quite challenging for them. Help them cope and adjust by creating your own “last week of school” from home. A good transition is key to minimizing behavioral issues, teaching life skills, and helping children get a handle on their emotions.
Wendi Iacobello is a graduate of Appalachian State University with a Master of Arts in Educational Media. She also has a BS degree in Early Childhood Education. Her professional career in education spans across nine years in the public education sector to include; middle and high school special education, adult education for incarcerated men, women, & youth, compensatory education, High School Equivalency instruction formerly known as GED, and community college instruction in Early Childhood Education curriculum courses. Wendi is an Army Spouse and first time mom to an adorable infant boy. Her hobbies include; volunteering in the local community, gardening, teaching aqua cycling and stroller fit classes on the military installation, and encouraging the military community through her blog Strength 4 Spouses.