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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. 

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Annie is putting parents into the right journalistic framework. Observe the story your kids are experiencing; know that it is their age appropriate version of events, and stand by as their experienced guide. Don’t mistake their experience for your own. She continues with a mini-consultation for parents.

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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 He and his wife, Lesley, have three adult children.

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“Now this is some of the behavior that you will notice about yourself:

  • Unusual tendency to complain about food, teachers, public school, private school,
  • Excessive nostalgia, the last singing assembly, the last woodshop class, the last recess game.
  • Concern about your children’s friends and their relationships
  • Anxiety about whether your child has learned enough to tackle first grade, wherever they go to school.  (Be assured, they have!)
  • Severe bossiness, a wish to micro-manage your child’s behavior, bedtime, reading, friendships, even more than is called for
  • Trouble separating
  • Tears, trouble sleeping, worries, especially in the middle of the night.”

I wish every parent and child had the experienced teacher, like Annie, backing them up, so that the Whoosh Zone does feel exhilarating. We want to be helping kids and families to feel in control — driving, not driven by the excitement of transitions and transfers of all kinds. It may be Kindergarten this year, but even long after life lived in the calendar of school is done, we face moments of heightened expectation and curious bumps and curves in the road. Our inner kindergartner may persist in our lives for quite a while … even when we become parents ourselves. The vantage point Annie provides, gaining a little altitude on what we’re feeling, helps us navigate. No matter what size shoes we wear, we’re working on balance, composure, and the temperament of maturity.

We can also slow it down a bit with something I call “anticipatory savoring” of events. “Think ahead to consider how you want to look back,” I used to tell my students, early in their final spring. “What kind of memories do you want to create for yourselves in the days and weeks ahead? Plan out those memories. Stock yourself with nice endings — before the fact.”  You can make your own list just by completing this line of thought: I’m looking forward to looking back on….what? And how do you wish to look back on it — with your kids?

Of course, beneath the surface of all the visible activities, there’s another, quieter adjustment taking place. Just when every child has grown into the shoe size of their current grade, and feels as if they fully inhabit, their current “gradeness,” the next grade, and bigger shoes, appears on the horizon. Small schools like ours, are good places to make beginnings and endings feel like smooth, whoosh-less transitions. And summer can be a good time to begin savoring next year.

The Christian Science Monitor has assembled a diverse group of the best family and parenting bloggers out there. Our contributing and guest bloggers are not employed or directed by the Monitor, and the views expressed are the bloggers' own, as is responsibility for the content of their blogs. Todd R. Nelson is head of school at The School in Rose Valley. 



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