As we approach the end of the school year, parents are anxious about ‘next year’. Whether it is going to TK or K, going to a new school, changing rooms, changing teachers, or a combination of the above, it is a big transition for both parents and students. What I have learned throughout the years is that ALL parents are anxious about transitions. What they really want for their child is for them to be happy and learning. . . in that order. They may come to you with questions about curriculum, experience of the teacher, expectations, test scores, or hundreds of other things, but this is really their way of asking, “Is my child going to be happy next year? Will they learn what they need to? Are they ready?”
As educators, we know that all transitions take time and we cannot guarantee a “perfect fit” for the child. We also know that for the most part, our children transition just fine and are once again happy and learning in their new environment; this is what we need to communicate to our parents. When a parent comes to you concerned about ‘next year’, first of all, acknowledge their feelings and then focus on the strengths of their child that will support the transition. Explain that with anything new, there is a period of adjustment and building a relationship with a new teacher and peers takes time. Remind them of the beginning of the school year with you – it all turned out fine and their child is happy and learning. Ease their mind about expectations –teachers are going to take the child where they are and move them forward; expectations are individualized.
The more we, as educators, remain calm and positive during transitions, the better off both parents and students will be. Try not to engage in the hearsay about the next teacher, school, or program. Each child is an individual and each experience is different; there is no crystal ball to tell us what it is going to be like. Ease parents’ fears with positivity and remind them that life is full of transitions and the more “matter of fact” we make it for our kids, the easier it will be. In addition, kids pick up on their parents’ anxiety about the transition – there is often a lot of “talk” about ‘next year’. Remind parents to curb their anxiety around their children and to enjoy the end of the year festivities and celebrate the current year!
A few resources to explore regarding end of the year transitions: