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SCHOOL’S OUT! THE IMPORTANCE OF PROVIDING CLOSURE

 

 

For most students, the last few weeks and days of elementary school are very exciting. But for some, it can be a very difficult time and behavior problems can skyrocket.

As a special educator, I see many students who struggle with anxiety over the anticipated transition(s) and as a result, experience an increase in challenging behaviors during this time.      

While many of our students love the idea of taking a long break from school and moving on to summer vacation, it’s important to keep in mind that some have mixed or even negative feelings about it.

 

Having mixed feelings about the end of the school year can look like this…

 

Students may feel; happy about no school work, sad about not seeing their friends for a long time, worried about whether or not they will like summer camp, confused about end of year and summer changing routines, anxious about what teacher they will get next school year…etc. etc. etc., that can be a lot to manage!

 

 

Unfortunately, some students who do not have a happy home life, feel negatively about the school year ending because they may be leaving the only structured and supportive setting they have.

 

 For your students with special needs, especially for socially/emotionally fragile students, it can be overwhelming.  Often we see an increase in challenging behaviors during the last weeks and days of school. 

 

Some things to keep in mind regarding closure…          
 

Give students a chance to say goodbye: this is comforting and eases anxiety

 

Give students a chance to look back on how far they have come: Instead of worrying about the future, celebrate the accomplishments.

 

If moving, give more support: It can be extra important to provide closure if a student is moving or if a teacher is leaving the school, kids often have more anxiety in these situations.

 

Special education kids thrive on routine and sameness: To the extent possible, keep your routines the same and give lots of warnings and preparation about changes, even things that seem unimportant such as; taking down classroom decorations, cleaning out desks, etc.

 

Don’t minimize your teacher/student relationship: You are a very important person in the lives of your students.  Even if you’ve had some tough times with a particular student, you’ve been through a long journey together!

 

The unknown is scary: Demystify the moving on to a new grade by talking about what the students can expect, classroom visits if possible, stories, etc.

 

All behavior is communication: Remember that all behavior is a form of communication so if you have students who are demonstrating an increase in challenging behaviors at the end of the school year, consider whether or not it might be due to end of year anxiety.  Rather than focusing on how to stop the behaviors, ask yourself what can you do to ease the students anxiety?  The only way to stop the behavior (s) is to get to the heart of the problem.

 

Have a smooth transition: Helping our students with closure, {ending or leaving one activity/event and getting prepared to start a new one} can go a long way toward having a smooth transition at the end of the school year. 

 

 

Closure gives students a much needed chance to say goodbye to friends and teachers, as well as the routines and structures they have come to know and rely on.  

 

A Fun FREEBIE For You!

 

The School Year Memory Timeline can help your students have CLOSURE at the end of the year.  Students work in groups to recall, write or draw their memories for one month. Next, the whole class puts their work together for an impressive timeline of memories! Included are timelines for September-August.

When completed, make copies for all and send them home with each student to keep.  A fun alternative to the traditional memory book!

 

 

 

Thanks So Much and Happy Teaching!

Cindy ~Socially Skilled Kids

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