The end of the school year is always bittersweet. As a preschool Director, it is rewarding to reflect on the progress that our children have made (individually and as a social group), to applaud their learning and celebrate the new relationships that have formed throughout the year. That is the sweet side of being an early childhood educator – growth is rapid and change is easy to track as children move through developmental stages.

The more challenging part is the knowledge that although it is likely that you will keep each child in your heart forever, they will move on to “bigger and better” things, and, as development dictates, the class of two and three year-olds that you cherish will slowly move away from memories of their early childhood experience. Saving the heartfelt artwork, cards and gifts that the children have given you throughout the year helps to validate the important role that the early childhood educator plays in the lives of the children they teach.

As the school year winds down, we address the obvious changes with our children and involve them in the “saying goodbye” process. Talking about summer and how the kids feel about “next year” is vital. Many children (and adults) fear the unknown; therefore, supporting an emotional vocabulary to express these fears is essential. Using our meeting times, discussing artwork and one-on-one casual conversations can spur these very important discussions.

Additionally, closing a classroom takes a lot of work! Affording children the opportunity to deconstruct the room is the most concrete way to signify that the school year is ending. Early childhood educators often assign jobs to children that include washing learning materials, cleaning shelves and gathering items that will be sent home. The rationale behind this is simple: the children co-created the environment and need to see and be part of it being treated with respect as it is put away.

Lastly, many classes have year-end celebrations or parties to say “goodbye” and end on a positive, fun note. Who doesn’t like an excuse for a party? Have a great summer!

By: Vicky McLaughlin, M.Ed
Director of Early Learning Foundations Preschool