Summer is calling.

And the idea of school year reflections can be difficult for students who are eager to leave long days inside, tough classroom challenges, and the structure of school relationships behind.

So, to get to anything meaningful, you may need some help reminding them that it’s important to take a bit of time to really think about all the hard work they’ve put in. Besides, reminiscing can be fun!

To help kids think and express their thoughts, its best to choose age-appropriate mediums (surveys, games, worksheets, posters, memory books or even school-specific social media) to aid their recall. After all, your kids have likely come a long way. Thoughts and memories can become a jumble, especially for kids. Most feel like last month was a long time ago.

Growth and change are important markers. They can be a source of confidence, encouragement, and hope if adults help them look clearly at their experiences in the following ways

  • What they know and struggle to learn
  • What they notice about themselves and how they learn
  • What they feel they need to be successful going forward

School Year Reflections About What Your Kids Know

1. “This year I learned…”

This basic thought prompt works as a good place to start. Ask your child to finish that sentence and sit back for a bit. If they give you some good material to work with, great. If you’re hearing crickets or get the old “I don’t know,” after a minute or so, just follow up with what you know.

Try “ Oh, I remember at the beginning of the year, you got that big packet of plastic coins and paper money. Did you ever get the hang of that?” or “Whatever happened with those fractions, do you know how they work now?”

Your child will likely perk up a bit, and start to think about what they’ve learned and mastered. Your job is just to facilitate the thinking and engage their memories so that they can connect the dots for themselves regarding their own knowledge.

2. “I had a hard time with…”

This isn’t a call to negativity, but a way to show kids that admitting they had a tough time is not an admission of defeat. Review their challenges with them. Help them see there’s no need for shame and no blame coming from you.

As a parent, these school year reflections are a good time to listen well and encourage your kids to give themselves credit for their effort. Assure your child that they aren’t “dumb” or “stupid’ or “bad” at school. Ask what still worries or upsets them. Let them know that struggles and failure are just part of learning. Sometimes it takes a while for things to come together.

3. “I got to know these learning helpers…”

Ask your kids who they know as well as what they know. Just as a productive and happy home life is greatly affected by and dependent on relationships, kids should reflect upon their educational life in a similar light.

Ask which friends, teachers, paraprofessionals, or administrative staff made them feel important, heard, capable, and understood. Try a  few of these questions:

  • Who made reading or writing less boring?
  • Which teacher made a dreaded subject tolerable?
  • Who believed in you?
  • Who let you try new things or help them at times?
  • Which helpers rewarded you during the year?
  • Who would you like to go back and visit after you move on?
  • What makes that helper so memorable?

Share with your kids that school is just as good for learning how to listen, help, and care about each other as it is for academic work. In fact, those “learning helpers” make the book learning even more useful and interesting.

School Year Reflections On What Your Kids Noticed About Themselves

4. “I discovered these new strengths…”

Ask your kid to share what they can do now that they believed they couldn’t do before. What worries or fears about school turned out to be unfounded? Uncover together the ways your child has tapped into their own sense of self-discovery.

Ask if they now consider themselves capable in arenas they never considered before. Have art courses uncovered an eye for design? Did a gift for languages arise from a great Spanish class? Did they realize they liked leadership when a teacher suggested student government?

5. “My proudest moments were…”

Kids love to be recognized, for that reason, their year-end reflections may start off as a list of all the extra special accolades they received or all the “A’s” they can list.

And if there aren’t many–or any–they may think there is little to be proud of.

Try to focus on what they are most proud of (big or small), not how they were recognized by others. This is a good way to reinforce that their own view of themselves and schooling is important. Share that recognition often comes after they take pride in themselves and their abilities, whatever they are.

School Year Reflections About What They Need to be Successful

6. “I learned to take care of myself by…”

Reflection on this question helps your kids see how independent they’ve become. Kids often want to “do it by themselves.” How was that goal accomplished last school year? Ask them to tell you how they overcame problems, challenges, and anxious moments on their own.

Finally, compare their ability to calm themselves, answer questions, and solve problems now to their abilities at the beginning of the year. Congratulate them on their maturity.

7. “I am more successful when…”

This final thought prompt simply asks your child to “own” their future. Asking them to see the previous school year as a springboard for success next year is a good way to conclude their reflections. Self-awareness and a desire to take responsibility for their own next steps are great year-end takeaways.

Teaching your child to pay attention to their experiences and how they can participate in their own education is invaluable.

Education then becomes less of a chore and more of an adventure. Kids can then take the reins of their learning, enjoy more of the ride, and learn lessons meaningfully before moving onto the next journey.

If you are interested in learning more about how to support your children’s educational experience, please visit our parental counseling page. The therapists at Cope With School NYC can help support you and your child set and reach the educational goals that matter to you.