Cooling Down From the School Year

We can approach the end of the school year just like we approach ending recesses or playtime by cooling down with deep breaths, debrief questions, creating a shared understanding of what happens next, and some fun mantras or cheers to build community. This year has been incredibly challenging for students, educators, and parents alike, so let’s appreciate how far we’ve come.

A deep breath: 

You can do this literally or metaphorically. You can use breathing exercises, meditation, or mindfulness techniques to get kids to mentally get into a safe and calm space. And you can schedule time to intentionally set the space for kids to reflect and connect. 

Debrief questions: 

As a group, reflect on what you’ve learned this year. A few of our favorite debrief questions can be used to spark a meaningful conversation:

  • What was something you accomplished this year and how did it feel?
  • What did you find surprising this year and why?
  • Who was a new friend you made this year and what do you appreciate about them? How do they make you feel?
Create a shared understanding of what happens next:

Make space for kids to express their feelings about what they anticipate for the summer and next school year. What are they excited about or scares them? What are their hopes and plans? Actively listen to their answers, and then, as best you can, explain what you anticipate their experiences over the summer or next year will feel like, sharing examples of what they might learn or how school might feel different.

Building community while having fun:

As the end of this school year is approaching, it is the perfect time to make sure kids get to be social, active, and feel connected to the community. In order to make the end of the school year fun for kids, consider revisiting the games you’ve played with kids all year. Ask your students what their favorite game was and have someone lead it. Ask someone what their favorite modification or new rule to a game was, and play the game again that way. If there were any games you missed, teach them this week and encourage kids to play it over the summer.

Some of our other favorite activities to celebrate the end of school include taking a virtual field trip, having a virtual field day with different activities in different breakout rooms or parts of a classroom, or inviting a familiar face at school to surprise the students with a poem, activity, or words of encouragement.

You can cool down your year in the same way: deep breaths, debrief questions, create a shared understanding of what happens next, and some fun to build community. Smile at the kids as they leave class for the last time before summer vacation, and know that your role as a caring, consistent adult is appreciated and was needed this year more than ever. Once the school year is over and the kids walk out of the doors or log off for the last time, it is ok to breathe a sigh of relief and pat yourself on the back for your achievements. You are a superhero and you are appreciated! Over the summer, you’ll surely remember to reflect, learn, and dedicate space in the summer to your self-care. Know that whatever you did, it is enough… and then when you are ready, it is time to plan for next year. Our team at Playworks will be waiting to support you.