Do you enlist the help of your students in the “end of year” clean up? One way I do this is to have the kids wash the dishes from the housekeeping center in the sensory table. I wait until the last few days of school and only put a few dishes at a time in the sensory table so the kids can still play with some in the house area. They wash them over and over and over again, because to them, it’s just another fun sensory table activity. Although you can’t tell in the picture, the children are washing the dishes with paper towels (sponges would work much better).
There is so much to be done at the end of the year, and I try my best not to “tear down” the classroom while the kids are still in school. I try to work on behind the scenes things as much as possible until the kids are gone, because it’s difficult for them to understand the changes in the room.
It’s difficult to know whether it’s best to prepare the children for the end of the year or to keep going like nothing is different, and I kind of meet in the middle. For most of these kids, it is the first time they’ve been in a school setting, spending time away from parents and with other people. They get attached to us and we to them, and they’ve never had to deal with leaving people they love before. It’s so hard for them. This month, for several days I had been showing the children how many days we have left and how many days we will be out for the summer, and talking about going to Kindergarten when they come back in August. They hadn’t said much about it, until one day I noticed my little class cowboy looking at me with a “deer caught in the headlights” expression on his face. He looked like he wanted to cry and he said, “Ms. Cox, I’m staring at you.” I realized that in that moment, it had “clicked”. He finally realized we would be leaving each other, school would end, and we would go our separate ways. Even though most of these kids will be together next year in Kindergarten, they will have a new teacher and new friends, and we will never again be the same group. I was so sad for him and us at that moment, so I decided to stop mentioning the “end of the year” for the rest of the year. There was also an interesting article recently on Teachers.net about children adjusting to the end of school: End of Year Syndrome.