Sending the kids home for Summer

It’s almost summer.

This week was so very difficult. In my career as an educator, I would rank it the saddest, hardest, and most overwhelming week I’ve had. And, in the midst of the struggle of the week, I kept hearing others saying “it’s almost summer” as if summer is the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. And that’s true, in some regards. Summer brings relaxing days, with little to no work and lots of freedom.

And it’s the same for the students. For some students “summer is almost here” brings excitement and joy. It’s almost time for days of exploring the neighborhood with our friends, swimming, cookouts, and family vacations. And, hopefully, most of our students have that to look forward to.

But some do not. For some kids, “it’s almost summer” brings feelings of fear and dread.  If we are honest with ourselves, we do not know what we send our students home to. I know, in my experience, that some of my students experience an increase in problem behaviors toward the end of the year. They know a break from school is coming, and they do not look forward to it.

Some of us send our kids home for the summer to a home where they are not treated well, where they don’t have a regular breakfast or lunch, where they may not have any activities to do, where the boredom will lead to destruction or they are left alone all day because mom is at work and can’t afford day camp. Some of our students go home to unclean conditions with nothing to do all day.

And, this week proved to me, that we have no idea the demons some of our students face when they are not at school. We have no idea if they will have someone remind them they are loved, cared for, and important. We hope they do. We pray they do. But we cannot know for sure.

So, in this last week of school, when so many kids are acting crazy nuts, and behavior problems are off the charts, let’s take a moment to breathe and remind ourselves that these children bring much more to school than a backpack, and they face much more in the summer than a vacation. Hug those kids before you send them home, tell them you will think of them, remind them they are loved. And tell them you are excited to see them again in the fall.

It’s almost summer.

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