By: Neeti Sarkar

It's June. Enough said, right? We are all so in need of the summer break, to recharge, rejuvenate, and mostly to feel and look human again, if you know what I mean! However, before we wrap up the academic year, it's important for us as school counselors to ensure the kiddos we've been working with, especially in tiers two and three, are set up for success before they go on vacation for the next 6-8 weeks. Therefore, in my experience, some of the best ways to support such students in a proactive manner include the following:

1. Helping students create their summer safety plan

Are there some students in particular that you think of during the holidays? Maybe you're wondering if they're safe or if they have an adult they trust that could help them when they need it. For such kiddos, I find that having a written or graphic safety plan is necessary. Before you go on vacation, take some time to help these students identify their safe places and their safety network.

making summer safety plans

2. Celebrating achievements

The children we see in groups and individually are real troopers. They come in week after week and work through something that is quite challenging for them. Their grit, effort, punctuality, and much more must be appreciated. Having an end-of-year party, especially with groups, or finding a fun way to celebrate 'the end' with individual students is only the right thing to do. I love giving out certificates/fun awards to these students. And it really helps them feel proud of themselves and of the progress they have made.

awarding students achievements

3. Terminating sessions well

It would be safe to assume that we've finished terminating our group and individual sessions, but if like me, you had a hard-pressing referral that you had to accommodate, make sure to provide proper closure to the student/s you're seeing. You could use stickers, and visual schedules, and even talk to them about termination before you actually end sessions. Try these termination activities!

Kids need predictability to function better so prepare them in advance. Be clear and direct about it being your last session. Allow time for students to ask questions so you can address their concerns. Make sure to do a memorable closing activity. One of the activities my students enjoy is this summer-themed coping skills digital activity.

4. Sending home SEL activity packets

I often have parents ask me if I could support them with material that they could continue using with their children when on holiday. The request has been chiefly for self-regulation, taking responsibility, and social skills. I prefer to pull out the child's favorite activities on the topic of concern and share it with the parents to use during the summer vacation. I also suggest read-alouds that they could use to build on these skills.

SEL activity

5. Encouraging them to maintain journals

With upper elementary students, having them maintain a journal through the summer can be useful when you return to school in the new academic year. Whether for tracking their feelings or as part of their self-care routine, journaling can be therapeutic. It also helps children be more aware of all their learnings and serves as a reminder to use the skills they've been working on.

Coping Strategies Pictionary

6. Communicating with the parents

Before we wrap up for the year, I make sure to meet the parents of students I have been seeing one-on-one. Depending on the need, I meet with parents of students who were in my various small groups. Offering a drop-in/check-in time over the last week of school has been useful, in my experience. It's a great way to catch parents up, in a personal manner, on how their child is doing. And if you can't meet in person, there's always email and Zoom, right? One of the other things I might do during these meetings is also make external referrals if needed, and/or direct them to online resources that they could use over the break.

What does the end of the year look like for you? What are some of your must-dos to support students on your counseling register before summer?

About the author: Neeti Sarkar is a Primary School Counselor at an IB school in Bangalore, India. Over the span of almost 10 years, she's worked with students aged 3-18, but enjoys working with the littles the most. Neeti's also a seasoned journalist, so when she isn't making behaviour plans, teaching guidance lessons, and supporting her school community in various other ways, she makes time for her other passion- writing.


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