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Growth, Separations and Transitions: A Four-Part Series: Part I

For most private school families the end of the year is a few weeks away. Whether it is the transition to a new grade, a new school, summer camp or college, change’s tension hangs in the air of most families. This is a four part series about how to think about welcoming the new and keeping bridges to the old. First, let’s look at what happens when kids transition to a new grade.

Transition to a New Grade

Moving-on from one grade to the next is a mixed experience for most kids. While most kids feel proud of what they have accomplished, sometimes the year was hard, or maybe they lived through something painful. In addition, there is often a certain degree of trepidation about the next year. The goal is to communicate three things:

  • Pride;
  • Next year presents new opportunities – this time with the hindsight of experience; and
  • Appreciation for what has been lost.

This is a good time to visit favorite family haunts. For instance, one family I know makes a point of visiting the Central Park Zoo at the end of every year. When their kids experience themselves a year older in a setting that never changes it helps them conceptualize growth. Also, this is a good time to add in a new responsibility or privilege in recognition of the child’s growth. Make a habit of bringing one activity or idea from the old year into the year to come. For instance one family joined a CSA for the year to come after their kids learned about local organic farming in the school year that was ending.

Most importantly, understand that there will be sadness every time a child changes grade. That in no way diminishes a child’s confidence in or excitement about what is to come.


About the Contributor: Susan Bodnar, Ph.D., clinical psychologist, is regular contributor to the NYC Firm Schools Blog in the area of parenting and child & adolescent mental health with a cultural and environmental perspective.

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