School letting out for the summer is a distinct time of year. I would argue that it is more poignant than the changing of the seasons. When you have school-aged children at home, everything changes at “summertime.” Subtle hints point to the looming shift that is about to occur. I received an email from the staff at my kids’ school yesterday. The contents of the message were pictures of a lost-and-found table with a note stating that all the items pictured would be donated to charity if they were not picked up by a certain date. Like soldiers returning home from a tour of duty, most kids could care less what they leave behind due to the pure bliss of escaping the usual routine. A theme of looking forward rather than backward emerges. Schools do their due diligence to get parents and kids to pause and reflect. They host art fairs to boast the work that was created out of paper and paint, tongue depressors and glue, clay and lacquer. They have banquets to celebrate memories of games and specific plays that happened over the course of the athletic season. Still, we have a tendency to rush and get through those events because they are items resting on the page of a calendar with an open box that needs to be checked.
(One of nine lost-and-found images.)
If you pause to reflect on your child’s accomplishments over the past school year, what comes to mind? The obligatory photo from the first day of school compared to how your child looks today might be markedly different. What accompanied those drastic physical changes? Consider writing down a few words that summed up the school year. Was your child thriving during the year or simply trying to survive? Those who were “getting by” really look forward to summer because it marks the end of a difficult season. With it comes the reprieve of a fresh start the following fall. How long will it take for that fresh start to become defeating once again? Parents will answer these questions differently for each of their children. Children are all gifted in unique and wonderful ways, which lead to very different responses.
I hope that you take time to pause and look backward to truly assess your child’s experiences as we move into summer. The anticipation of summer break is palpable. Excitement is in the warm spring air. Nearly everything is tempting us to focus our attention on what is come. If your child did struggle academically or socially through the school year, then summer might afford space for maturity or spontaneous growth in executive function. Intuitively, we know these possibilities to be limited; like buying a raffle ticket and hoping for the best. Action can be taken to provide your child with the best possible outcome for the school year to come. If necessary, help your child take ownership of his or her learning. Advocate for your kid(s)!
We are living through a unique period in time where shaming leads people to move. This blog post is not meant to shame anyone into anything. The essence of our culture is also one that moves fast and usually spends little time reflecting. This is an invitation to reflect during a time full of distractions. Once you have a time of reflection, try being still. Allow yourself to experience “being” rather than “doing,” if only for a short while. In this space, you might also notice something bigger than yourself (see Psalm 46:10).