Why Some Kids Don’t Look Forward to Summer

If you are noticing strange behaviors in your students as the end of school approaches, you are not alone.

First – consider what you are experiencing yourself:  You have increased pressure to complete curriculum and measure performance, colleagues you’ve worked with for years may be retiring or leaving, your own kids may be transitioning to a new school next year, or your mind is occupied with all the things you need to do before summer, and you may be experiencing some transitional stress as well.

Our students are experiencing these same stressors with additional things going on in their little lives that you may have not even thought about.  It’s important to have a sense of empathy when it comes to your student behaviors along with the end of year madness.


Some things to consider as summer approaches:

  • Many “at risk” students may not be looking forward to summer break
  • Some students may not know what they are doing this summer
  • We know that 2 nutritional meals were guaranteed during the school year, this may not be a reality for some students during summer
  • Students may not know how to cope with anxiety over the above things
  • Kids become more over-scheduled as the weather is nicer and families plan more and more activities
  • They can sense the stress that you may be feeling and may act out because of it
  • Students may be sleeping less as it gets darker later
  • Stress around many of their friends leaving to other schools next year and coming back to school not knowing anyone
  • Some students may be home all day during the summer by themselves, or with a sibling, not knowing what to do

Obviously, each child will experience the above in a different way. But being aware that our kids are experiencing stress may help us manage through the social/emotional needs differently these last few weeks of school.  Keep in mind that WE (the teacher) are the single most important factor in students’ stress level at school. Remember, this too shall pass, and soon you’ll be starting off another new school year with a fresh roster and attitude, even though this freshness seems a distant memory.

When you seek to understand the “why’s” behind student behavior you can then understand what they need in order to overcome the issues they are experiencing.  Sometimes all they need is a caring, smiling face, reminding them it will all be ok!

What have you noticed about student behaviors and attitudes in the last few weeks of school?  

Any tricks to get through the madness?




Jessica Balsley

Jessica Balsley is the Founder and President at AOE. She is passionate about helping art teachers enhance their lives and careers through relevant professional development.


  • Ms. Novak

    I mostly notice that the tattling goes through the roof!!!  Most of the time, as throughout the whole year, I continue to encourage them to solve it on their own — though sometimes I will offer a simple solution to keep things from turning into arguments.  Example: If there is a problem on decided who was really in line first and who did indeed ‘budge’ or ‘run’ or ‘cut’ I simply suggest they play rock paper scissors and the winner stays in the ‘front’.  This game of chance not only offers a chance to be ‘right’ but it also provides a clear.. well… loser.  So instead of trying to figure out who ‘ran’ or who ‘walked fast’ — rock, paper, scissors and it’s over.  The loser of the game tends to pout a little bit about losing, but rarely will argue the outcome.  

    I also become a little less lenient about consequences – but I am quicker than normal to give a second chance.  So I might deal out a consequence a reminder sooner, but bring students back to the activity sooner than before.  This might seem backwards — but if kids are getting squirrely for whatever reason – they still need boundaries.  Students need to know the classroom is still a safe place for everyone, even in the final days and weeks.

    • I totally agree with you, Amanda, that it’s not an excuse for behavior, but at least it helps us understand. I always get more lenient at the end of the year, but wish I hadn’t when my days are chaotic. It also reminded me not to keep asking “What are you doing this summer” because for some kids they don’t get to go to the pool much, etc. They stay home alone. It’s sad!

      • Vivian Sakellariou

        I know i think it’s sad too that students are home all summer because parents are working. I wished I lived in the neighborhood of my school for that reason to do some art with kids, start a camp or creative classes for 3 weeks or so.

  • So many changes in routines with summer vacation, and yet not all of them are good for everyone.
    You brought up some very valid points in this post, thank you for your insight.
    I thought of this post on my way to school this morning.  On the radio they were talking about how the USDA has partnered with the Salvation Army to offer free summer meals to youth.  The Salvation Army is right down the street from my school so it makes me happy to know that some of my students will be able to continue to have free lunches.

  • marieelcin

    As I was reading this I was thinking about the “summer reading” lists that go home- what if the art teacher sent home a list of art challenges to do over the summer? It could give some of those kids with not much to do something to turn to? Make an art stand instead of a lemonade stand. Try to watch a movie about an artist’s life. Draw an object from every room in the house. Make a sculpture from things in the backyard. Make a sidewalk chalk art gallery down the block. …… The list could go on and on. Maybe promise a reward to kids who bring in proof of completing some of the things on the list when they get back in September!

    • I love this idea! I have done something similar over winter break!
      I will have to post about it soon

  • I love the ” Art to Do ” list for the summer! I am going to make up a list of things my students can do this summer that are art related and send it home with them! Yeah! Thanks for sharing the great idea! :)

  • Ruth Askren

    I like to give more Free Art time right before summer. I remind them that it’s their imaginations that really makes the art happen, not an assignment. We discuss favorite subjects as there are always the habitual dinosaur and princess makers, an I also have some standard suggestions: a pirate ship, jelly bean factory, peanut butter factory, rocket ship, beach scene with primary colors only,your family/self and so on. All drawing media are offered.

  • Catharineho

    My own son was acting out and I asked him why he was not acting his normal happy self and he said he had such a great year he did not want it to end.  Not wanting to let go of what was good and fear of the unknown for the coming year. My senior art students  all regress towards the end as they are going off to uni leaving friends and family behind. Eager to go and sad to leave. I do believe that those who have developed close relationships with teachers find it harder to go as by the time they graduate we are an important part of their support group. My seniors start a facebook group for our art class so they can share and support each other at the start a new year away from home. I can be a long distance fan of their work and support them from afar. 

    • The Facebook group sounds like a great idea for them to keep in touch!

  • Toby

    Our school does offer meals through the summer months, but I do see the last few weeks the poor behavior choices begin as the safe place, structure of the classrooms, and friends will be gone. The staff who are there to talk to…
    For these kids I hope summer goes really fast so they can get back to school!
    AND hopefully they are doing some type of art during this time too!
    The Boys and Girls club is great for these kids as well. More summer clubs are needed but “we” need a break too!