Beyond Bows and (Gift) Bags: Ways to Wrap Up the School Year

As school winds down, it’s tempting to want summer to start as fast as possible and to look at school in the rearview mirror. Closure on many levels also is a necessary part of the school year ritual for parents, teachers, and students. Preparing for summer helps ease the transition from school to home, and creates opportunities for reflection and planning. Here are several ways you can help your gifted children wrap up the current school year with gratitude in their hearts while they glance ahead to the future:

  • Be thankful. Be sure to say “thank you” to those who helped you or the gifted child in your life this year, whether it’s your homeroom teacher, bus driver, gifted coordinator, learning resources specialist, or an extracurricular coach. And it’s not always about the gift—the thought does count! A handwritten note or email goes a long way. And, parents: Don’t forget to let your school’s principal know if a particular faculty member was a shining star in your child’s growth and development this year.
  • Celebrate the memories. Transitions can be tough for children and adults alike, so be sure to take time to commemorate the friendships and experiences from the past school year. Here are some ideas for both teachers and students/parents to say “goodbye” to the current year and look ahead to the future.
  • Review education plans. If your child has an IEP or special accommodations, be sure to review the plan with the school before the year ends. Take a look at what worked and what might need to be modified for the coming year, so plans are in place when school starts in the fall. “10 Tips for Wrapping up the School Year” can help provide some guidance.
  • Visit new spaces. Some gifted children need longer than others to transition to new places and spaces, particularly if your child is moving to a new level or building. Be sure to visit their new classroom before  the year ends or before school starts. Giving your child time to scope out his future surroundings will help ease anxiety and make for a smoother transition in the fall.
  • Identify summer pals. High-ability children need peers who are socially, emotionally, and intellectually connected to them, and sometimes their “true peers” are not their age mates. Before the school year ends, it’s important to identify a few friends your child will connect with over the summer. Sometimes it involves asking the teacher or your child if there’s someone they connected with at school and reaching out to that family before school ends to make advance plans. This article from Duke TIP offers tips on developmental milestones and ways to facilitate friendships for gifted children.
  • Find summer programs designed for gifted children. Summer and weekend camps, enrichment programs, music and art institutes, museums, and special interest clubs are all great sources for ways your child can explore her passions and meet like-minded peers over the summer. Be sure to check out the May issue of Parenting for High Potential and “Planning for Summer” on the NAGC website for plenty of ideas and resources for linking your high-ability child with others who share the same interests. Parents might also use the extra time during the summer to match their child with mentors who have expertise in a job or hobby in which their child is passionate.
  • Reflect, regroup, and relax. This month’s Connecting for High Potential can help guide you in making the most out of the coming weeks—and the importance of self-reflection and self-regulation in the development of a child’s self-efficacy. Discover the importance of goal-setting, for both summer schedules and longer-range pursuits, and how to create a blend of rest and activity that’s right for your child.

So, before opening the door to new adventures this summer, remember it’s important and necessary to appropriately wrap up your child’s current school year and experiences—no giftwrap or bows required!