By Vita Forest
It is the end of the calendar year, and in Australia, the end of the school year too. The last week or so has been filled with lots of “special” and “fun” events. But these occasions have also been felt as changes to routine and the end of predictable patterns that a lot of children hold dear. Some children reverted to behaviour that I thought we were past, interesting quirks returned and lots of kids were tired and emotional. I chatted to some colleagues about it – my class was not unique.
Believe it or not, some kids like school. They crave the stability, predictability, the safe environment, that for some of them, unfortunately, is only to be found at school. The idea of long summer holidays, away from their classmates, teachers and school community, fills them with nothing short of dread.
After a particularly exasperating morning, I called a class meeting.
“How is everyone feeling?” I asked, “Hands up if you worried about anything.”
A few hands went up. Then a few more.
“What are you worried about?”
Then it all came out.
Next year. What if I’m not with my friends? Who’ll be in my class? Who will my teacher be? Homework! Naplan! (Is this really what eight year olds should be thinking about?) What if my teacher doesn’t know about me? (Special chair, special sticker chart, special chats, special expectations). What if I can’t do the work? Who are you teaching? Will we have you again?
I told them teachers were feeling the same way too. Who will be in my class! (They laughed at that). What grade will I be teaching? And for some – Do I have a job?
Then we remembered how we felt at the beginning of this year and how things have changed since then. The friends we have made. The things that seemed so hard that now seem easy. How if we weren’t with our friends from our last class we could still play with them at lunchtime. And we still saw our old teachers around the playground. And we could still talk to them. And the work wasn’t so hard we couldn’t do it. And how we all got used to each other and what we needed.
Then we all took a deep breath and felt a little less worried.