Navigating Transitions: A June Message from the OCDSB Mental Health Team

As the school year comes to an end and we get ready to transition into summer, it’s expected that both parents and children may be carrying a number of different emotions. We might think of excitement and relief when we imagine the last day of school, but for many families it can also bring worry or concern. This may be especially true if your child or teen will be moving to a new school in the fall, or if they are graduating and moving onto the next phase in their life. The truth is, even positive transitions can bring feelings of stress for ourselves and our children, as these transitions force us to learn, grow, and adapt. 

As the school year begins to wind down, here are a few strategies parents can use to support their child as they navigate this period of “ending”. 

Check in

Check in with your child or youth to see how they are feeling about the end of the school year. It is easy to assume that they are excited, when in reality they may be experiencing many different emotions. Take time to ask how they are feeling, listen to them, and give space for them to express their emotions without judgment. Normalize their experiences and share that many students and parents have different reactions to “endings”, and that all feelings are okay. Try not to jump in to fix things or rush to solve any issue that may arise; while it is natural to want to help, giving space to your child and letting them know you hear them opens them up to future conversations with you. If they share that they are struggling, work together to come up with a plan on how you can help them as they move through this transition. 


Take time to reflect on the school year and talk about both the successes and challenges they may have experienced. This helps your child reflect on the learning and growth, noticing where they began the year and how far they have come.  

Some questions to consider may be:

  • What is something you are proud of from this year?
  • What is something that surprised you that happened this year?
  • What is one of the activities you did that you will remember from this year?
  • What is something new you learned this year?
  • What was a challenge that you overcame this year?

You can also share anything you have noticed about their development over the course of the year. Remember that it is helpful to focus on their effort rather than achievement, for example, how hard they worked on math rather than getting an A in math. There is research to support that a focus on effort over performance is linked to a more positive sense of self, well-being, and increased personal motivation in children.


Involve your child or youth in conversations about plans for the summer, as this will help create some excitement for what is to come. First, create a bucket list together of things you would like to do as a family over the summer. Ideas may include going on a picnic, visiting a local beach, going for a walk or bike ride, or attending a festival. Next, talk together about how you will maintain some level of routines and structure over the summer months. Discuss what the new routines will look like, and seek input from everyone as a family. What will bedtime look like? Meals? Wake up time? Screen time? Engage your children in these conversations and come up with routines together. Finally, ask your child or youth if they have any personal goals for themselves over the summer (working, learning, new adventures) and help them come up with a plan on how they are going to accomplish their goals.  

In the end, the summer can bring a wonderful opportunity for parents and children to reconnect and have fun together after a busy school year. While we recognize life doesn’t stop for us as parents, it’s important to try to take the time to slow down, if even for a few moments, to be with your child. Finding moments of play and laughter can be good for our children and for ourselves.  Having said that, we recognize that all families are different and there is no one right way to do things. While social media can sometimes make us feel that summer should be filled with grandiose plans and perfect memories made, the reality is that letting go of pressures and unrealistic expectations and instead embracing the small moments as they come is key to creating a summer that everyone can enjoy.

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