The end of school 'Whoosh Zone': Plan for how you'd like to look back
With the last day of school in sight, kids (and parents) start acting odd. Crankiness, restlessness, and nostalgia are all symptoms of the 'Whoosh Zone'. Prepare yourselves.
We’re in the Whoosh Zone.Skip to next paragraph
Todd R. Nelson is head of school at The School in Rose Valley outside Philadelphia. He has been a Monitor contributor of Home Forum essays, poems, Op-Ed commentaries and feature articles since 1989. He writes a monthly column for Teachers.net. He and his wife, Lesley, have three adult children.
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It’s what I call the vertiginous final weeks of a school year when the number of exciting and challenging events seem to defy the laws of thermodynamics and Einsteinian physics as they relate to time, space, and motion. You wonder: How can all these things fit into the available space? In fact, it’s kind of onomatopoeic. You can feel and hear the whoosh these days in the sunny playground times, and in the studios and classrooms. Yes, we have begun the wonderful glide down to summer on extended wings. It will all fit. It always does.
It fits better with forethought. Step back: What’s really going on here, as parents, teachers, and children hurtle (or glide) towards summer? Are we in unfoldment mode, or crisis management? Do we have the analog view of where we are on an emotional, curricular, and cultural continuum?
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Every school celebrates closure and transition in different ways. We are closing the books on projects and various academic studies; perhaps regressing a bit in terms of some social-emotional learning, but also consolidating the gains in other areas. We are fully “inhabiting” our new level, be it “first graderness” or parent of "first graderness.” And even for the veteran teacher, each academic year culmination has its own unique flavor and texture. Or it should.
At my school, a wise kindergarten teacher is good about alerting parents to what they should expect. Annie sends an e-mail replete with coordinates of all kinds. She is talking to experienced parents — whose youngest child is coming through kindergarten — as well as initiates into the world of whoosh, going through it for the first time.
This week she wrote home the following:
“Here are a few things that you expect as the school year is drawing to a close...
- Unusually whiny and complaining children
- Problems between friends.
- Total illiteracy-they don’t even know the alphabet now. They don’t understand math now either.
- Complaints about teachers (we never help them) food,(we don’t feed them), and all special subjects (they never go to shop, science, art, music).
- Your children will complain they never...get called on, have a turn, go first, play outside, get picked....
- Severe bossiness, questioning, nail biting, tripping and skinned knees.
- Trouble separating.
- The occasional shove, push, hit, and they will be as surprised to see this happen as we are.
- Trouble sleeping, late nights...
“All this is normal, and happens at the end of every school year in Kindergarten. It is how the children cope with their anxiety about moving to first grade, perhaps at a new school, and the ending of kindergarten. Had you had the chance to see the children with their buddy friends from our partner school this week, you would have been so proud, and had a chance to see them at their very best.”