Normally, students have a group of close friends they’ll connect with over the summer. But in general, there are going to be many students they won’t see or connect with over the summer. So, if the last exchange ends on a bad note, relationally, your students will have a couple months to stew on that. But if the school year ends on a good note relationally, then when the school year picks back up in the fall it will be an easier transition into the next grade with those people.
To help your students overcome those “bad endings,” help them learn how to navigate those uncomfortable relational moments that they still need to mature into. As awkward as it might be, teach your students to ask for forgiveness when it’s needed and make sure to say good-bye. These are sometimes common-sense things, but it’s easy for Jr. high students to ignore if they’re not looking to the future – which, let’s face it, 90 percent of them aren’t.
Also help your students to realize that their peers aren’t the only ones at school that require valuable relationship-building moments for the future. Sometimes the teachers, custodians and school staff get left out, but they’re going to be right back in those school halls with your students next year, too. Make sure to encourage your students to say, “Thank You” – something very simple that mom and dad have drilled into them since they were 4 years old. Remind your students not to forget those common courtesies, because those small things go a long way and carry a lot of relational weight going into the next school year.