As the school year comes to an end, I find myself filled with emotion: stress about the last book report when the book is lost, anxiety about the letter from the library about HOW MANY books are lost, relief that the children (and their parents) got through it, excitement about the beach and summer vacations, concerns about who is going where next year, if those are the right places for them etc, etc, etc.
But when we take a break from the end of the year parties and teacher gift planning – there are some important things to remember:
1. Celebrate the success! Regardless of how difficult the school year was for your child, and there will be years, maybe many or even most years like that – celebrate the success of getting through it! There is a child who ought to celebrate never having to do 7th grade again (no matter how hard the year was). There is the child who is still behind grade level but when we look closely, the child worked really hard and made a lot of progress during the year. And there is the child for whom school is so challenging that just staying in the game, going every day and doing whatever they can – is worthy of celebration.
2. Feel good and share good feelings. It is important to teach your child how to work hard. You have done that all school year long. But it is also healthy to teach your child how to feel good about your accomplishments. Smile, take a deep breath, appreciate how far your child has come. How much he has grown up and try to focus on the good, positive strides your child has made.
3. Do something a little crazy. What would knock your child’s socks off? Dinner out with only mom and dad? A trip to an amusement park, movie, or downtown to see the sights? Make it a really special occasion. As adults, we know how good it feels to get real appreciation for how hard we work at our jobs. Translate that into the language your child understands. Is it time alone together? A trip to somewhere fun? Yummy treats? A video and late bedtime?
4. Leave out the “but.” Sometimes parents try to keep a balanced perspective and say “You did a great job this year in school, but next year is going to be much harder or but next year you will need to work harder.” You may be legitimately worried about how your child is going to get through the next year but keep that to yourself. Nothing undermines a child’s confidence more that his parents saying “maybe you aren’t up to it.” So think carefully if you must about how to give a real compliment. And help your child learn to value his accomplishments without worrying about what comes next.
5. Encourage your child to reflect on his experiences. Ask your child what he thought went well, what he wished were different, what he wants to do differently next year. Ask specifically: “what do you think you need more help with next year?” and “what do you need less help with?” Some kids have never thought in these terms and it is good training for thinking strategically. Some kids can’t believe that their parents actually want to hear what they think about it all.
6. Don’t forget to thank the teachers. Many regular classroom teachers go that extra mile for the child with hearing loss in their classroom. Make sure to show your appreciation for their care and concern for your child. Teach your children to appreciate their teachers too. It doesn’t need to be a big, expensive gift. A thank-you note written by the child saying why the child appreciates this teacher can really mean a lot to a teacher. It’s a good lesson for all of us.
Tags: celebrations, children, end of the year, listening to your child, outlook on life, parenting, positive outlook, realistic expectations, school, self-esteem, social and emotional development, teachers