Goodbye Summer 2013

The end of summer and the transition to a new school year

Posted Aug 25, 2012

As the summer of 2012 is quickly coming to an end, the thoughts of returning to school begin to surface. For some teens, going back to school is exciting. They get to see their friends, make new ones, and plunge into another great year. To others, the mere thought of returning to school is a dreaded one. This is especially true for the teen who struggles academically, who would rather be any place but in a classroom.  While the beginning of the school year may be marked with anticipation, it may also be a time of apprehension and sadness.  

Many teens have had to say goodbye to dear friends, as they have either moved with their family or moved on with their own life (i.e., going to college or the military). Saying goodbye to friends is hard and creates a sense of loss. And what about that teen who's getting ready to take the rite of passage to middle school or high school?  That in and of itself can create anxiety. Yes, the beginning of a new school year can create a mixed bag of emotions.  But to teens, one thing is for certain they've got to face the change all while saying goodbye to the magic of summer.

Summer is a season for change.  It can be a time for a lot of social growth and maturity. Without the burden of due dates, assignments and other pressures during the school year, teens get to explore who they are and how they fit into the world. They get to experiment with social situations, learn life lessons from interacting with others, practice skills that they'll use in adulthood and have more time for driving their parents insane! 

We all have memories of summer's gone and past. Many great novels, blockbusters, and Billboard hits have been made about the magic of summer.  The entertainment industry capitalizes on summer and teens free time by releasing its top blockbusters of the year.  Summer,  a time for building relationships, sleeping in late, working, hanging at the beach, pool or lake, attending camps(athletic or adventure), and most importantly no homework, deadlines, projects, tests, or quizzes.  Yes, pure freedom...  Ah, those were the days!

Summer is a time of fun, socialization, and family vacations. It's a great time for personal growth and social development - a time to experiment, try on new personas, and see the world through a different lens. Though short, summer holds some true treasures just waiting to be explored. What was one of your favorite summer memories? What did summer teach you? Were you one of those teens who couldn't wait to get back to the classroom or was it the last thing from your mind?  Switch gears, what about your teen?  Do you think he or she is excited, nervous, anxious, etc., about the end of summer? Well, there's only one way to find out.  Just ask.

Take the time to speak with your teen about his or her summer experiences.  Ask about his favorite summer memory, what he's going to miss most about summer, and how he feels about going back to school. You may find that your teen's experience isn't all that different from your own. If your teen is dreading another school year or had to say goodbye to friends, help her work through her thoughts and emotions.  How do you do that?  You can begin by reaching out and listening.  Encourage her to talk about her feelings.   It's okay if you can't fix her problems or even take away her fears, sometimes just having someone who cares is all she really needs.  Also ask if there's something that you can do to make the transition a smooth one.  Who knows, she may have a couple of suggestions for you.

The end of summer brings with it closure and a time for change. As the back to school items hit the shelf, don't forget to slow down to bid summer a fond farewell. For as we all know, once you're finished with school and no longer on an academic calendar, summer loses some of its magic. Help your teen learn from and cherish the true treasures of summer.

As a counselor, I am always amazed at the growth that happens to teens during those two short months. When they return to school, I walk down the hall in awe of the maturity and growth that summer has brought. But I know, l too, was once affected by summer's magic. Yes, summer has a magical quality about it. It's a season of change and growth and it marks the beginning of another school year. So, until we meet again in 2013, "Goodbye Summer 2012."

On a personal note, it's been a little over two years that I began blogging  for Psychology Today.  Each blog challenges me to reach farther than before.  I started this venture with one simple thing in mind "To help people transform their lives from the inside out."  That very statement has become my mission statement.  My goal is simple to help educate about current trends, emotions and problems facing today's teens. 

So in celebration of my second year anniversary, I am re-posting my first blog, with a few minor tweaks.  I look forward to continuing to bring you relevant and helpful information.  Thank you to all of my readers for your continued support.  I hope that Summer 2012 brought something special to you.