This week’s blog post is an updated version of one that originally ran in May 2017.
The last few weeks of classes at The International Preschools are exciting for our students. Teachers and children begin play-based learning activities to celebrate the end of the school year: outdoor classroom parties/picnics with parents, end-of-the-year gifts, and memory books.
But after the festivities have concluded, what’s next? The “what’s next,” for some children, can be filled with uncertainty, sadness, or fear. Sometimes, these feelings can result in regressing behaviors, such as difficulty separating from parents or caregivers. This is an opportunity for children to develop life-strategies for transitioning between one set of routines towards another exciting phase in their lives.
The process actually begins in September when teachers spend time helping students acclimate to the routines and expectations of the classroom. This action is crucial in helping the children feel confident and comfortable in their surroundings; toddlers and preschool-age children crave stability in their day-to-day schedules, thriving most when they know “what comes next.” Providing consistency is key to helping children feel safe, secure, and confident.
By May, when children feel confident in their classrooms, teachers are able to focus on the passage from school to summer. In many classrooms, a “Baby Show and Share” is introduced. Students are encouraged to bring in their baby clothing or baby photos to present to their classmates. This activity allows children to see how much they have grown, learned, and changed over the course of a few years (and for some classes, a few months!). Another focus during this time of year centers around building confidence and self-esteem. As a whole group and individually, classes reflect on tasks that the children can do now that they couldn’t do a few months or years ago (i.e. ride a tricycle, write his/her name, use the bathroom on his/her own). By doing this, he/she can see that taking risks and learning new things is something attainable. The goal is that once this idea is reinforced in a child’s mind, he/she will be less afraid to engage in new experiences in the future.
Developmentally, young children do not grasp the passage of time as adults do; for them, the next school year is too abstract (and far away) of a concept. The idea of summer (and swimming, camp, and playgrounds) is an exciting, happy event that will occur immediately after the end of the school year. This is a soothing topic to focus on when preparing to leave a familiar classroom. These images help transitions feel less overwhelming and more naturally a part of their growth.
All of our classrooms celebrate the end of school with parent/child celebrations filled with songs, food, and fun. Happily, we will still incorporate these celebrations (for many classrooms) during this COVID-affected time by relocating our farewell parties from the classrooms to the school backyard and/or park. The children are always encouraged to come back and visit their teachers, and to have play dates with their friends over the summer (and beyond).
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