An open letter to parents:
We are narrowing down to the last few days of school. For some of us that is exciting, for other it is terrifying. Keep in mind that you’re likely to see two reaction from kids. The first is traditional excitement with lots of energy and positive responses. Our more introverted students will revel in their chance to have time in their comfort spaces and loose schedules where they can have more say over their days. Our extroverted kids will have feelings of worry or loneliness as they think about not seeing people over the summer.
There is third reaction that some of our students will face, and that is hidden anxiety. I use the term loosely to address some of the hidden manifestations of worry and fear. If you’re noticing things like… anger, unwarranted frustration, sleeplessness, obsessions about the what the date is or when school ends, preoccupation with summer plans, or feelings of alienation…don’t panic. It is really common for students to be afraid of the unknown that comes with summer break. School, while occasionally daunting, is predicable. It offers a routine that can be very comforting. Varying degrees of anxiety like behaviors and emotions are very common in gifted kids.
One way to check if your student might be in this list is to think about how they are the few weeks before school starts. If they show any of these same signs, then just rest assured that if they exhibit some unexpected reactions over the next few weeks it’s just the same thing but in reverse.
Here are a few things you can do to help:
- - Schedule play dates. Going from seeing friends every day to not seeing them at all can create really strong feelings of isolation.
- - Summer camps. Not only are they fun, but they allow social kids a chance to stay in touch with people in a setting that is familiar.
- - Set a schedule. Routines are important. Summer shouldn’t mean that kids suddenly get to stay up as late as they want and sleep all day. Consistent sleep and proper amounts of sleep have serious impacts on a kid’s sense of well-being, emotional resilience, and cognitive strength.
- - Positive Support. Just remind them that these types of changes in the year are normal. Listen to their worries and ask questions about how you can help. What they are feeling is very real. Give it space to be real, without empowering it or dismissing it.