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For many teachers and students, nearing the end of the school year can be a time of mixed feelings, sometimes including fear and anxiety. Students who walk through our doors with what Dr. John Seita and Dr. Larry Brendtro call "family privilege" look forward to time with friends and family, summer outings, and a freer schedule. These students are entering summer break "feeling felt and accepted" within their home environments. Their secure attachment with caregivers allows for expression, mistakes, and freedom to explore their self. Family privilege is defined as an invisible package of assets and pathways that provide us with a sense of belonging, safety, unconditional love, and spiritual values.
Family privilege has little to do with financial privilege -- there are many alienated, disconnected, and lonely children from traditional upper-middle- and middle-class families who may lack emotionally positive climates within their home environments. Disconnected and mistrustful youth, whose experience of a school and classroom culture was an island of stability supporting their emotional and social needs, find the end of the school year frightening and stressful. Classrooms that nurture social-emotional growth and expression create a kind of family privilege, and when summer break becomes a reality, these students can feel an escalation of end-of-school-year stress.
File contains an archival version of an article originally available on Edutopia. Archived with permission. The author reserves all rights.
Desautels, Lori, "Calming End-of-Year Stress" (2016). Scholarship and Professional Work – Education. 92.