It’s that time of year where teachers and students are collectively singing, “school’s out for summer!” Our children are gearing up for a new season of summer play, rest, and joy. Family day-trips are planned, vacations are penciled in, summer camps are booked and children are ready for scheduling freedom! As parents, we start to feel the finality of the school year too as we begin to clean out our kids' backpacks: finding that moldy sandwich bread that never made it to the school garbage can, the small pebbles, dirt and leaves roaming around the bottom of the backpack from outdoor activities and the lonely sock, with no matching friend. Families together, ramp up for a summer season of mixing both adventures and rest together.
In saying that, the school year’s end is also marked by another event - the opening of that single envelope that encompasses everything our child has academically accomplished in 10 months: the report card. The group of papers that highlight our children’s successes and achievements, our children’s growth and progress as well as the areas of improvement that continue to need focus and attention outside the classroom. I don't know about you, but as a child, opening those report cards with my family was such a loaded experience full of stomach
butterflies, nauseating nerves and anxious waiting. What was it like for you as a child? What’s it like for your children now and how do they behave when the report card is opened? As a parent, how do you feel opening the year-end envelope? Judged? Scared? Stressed? Relieved?
What conversations are had in your home, around report cards? I think it’s important to remember that regardless of what that report card says, our children are doing the best they can. It’s hard not to compare their grades or progress to other children and moreover, stop the train of worrying about our children’s development, the pace of their learning and what this might mean for their future. I know you felt this too as a child but school expectations are hard for most children, regardless of their grades. Achievement can be a heavy responsibility for kids, and perhaps, even a burden for some to carry day-to-day. As we prepare to open up these envelopes and read these reports with our children, reminding children that their worth is not linked to academic achievement is important.
What isn’t really talked about in schools related to academic achievement is brain development and emotional regulation in child development. Emotional regulation doesn’t usually “click” for children until they are about 7-9 years of age. Additionally, understanding what’s reasonable to expect out of our children at certain ages is significant too. It’s ok for kids to not know and to need to learn - growing and learning are part of this human experience and to be a lifelong learner, is to be human! Remember, learning transitions are hard for everyone and change is hard when what to expect is unknown (this is true for
both parents and children alike). Some ways to help your children prepare for changes may include talking to them about what to expect in this new chapter ahead, highlighting some new skills that might be helpful to work on over the summer, and how counselling support could help. As a parent, wanting to show up for our children is our heart’s main goal and if you want to provide your child(ren) will some additional support in navigating all the report-card feels, transitions and changes, and facilitating new outlooks regarding new learning goals ahead, PACE Counselling offers child-focused therapy to support both parents and children as we all navigate child learning and development together.