Keeping Your Child on Track at the End of the School Year

Spring Break is over and the kids are heading back to school. As the school year draws to a close and the weather warms up, students tend to go into auto-pilot mode. They tend to relax their work ethic in anticipation of the coming summer vacation. Unfortunately, for students who have been struggling all year long, this is sometimes the worst part of the year academically. They know that they should kick it into high gear, but their brains tell them to slow down and take it easy–even thought this means possible failure. If your child has been struggling, make sure that he does not fall through the cracks in these last two months of the school year. Here are some tips to help your child stay on track and finish up the school year on a high not

Know what else is going on in your child’s life
There are so many non-academic things that can affect a child’s academic life. Make sure that you are aware of all that is going on in your child’s life. Know your child’s friends, and partners (if they are in relationships). I can’t tell you how fast an A student can take a nosedive due to a broken heart. Know what activities they are into, and participate in them if possible. Create an on-going dialogue so that your child feels comfortable talking about things that are bothering him or her. If there is a serious turn in your child’s behavior, and you don’t know how to get to the bottom of it, don’t be afraid to seek professional help.

Remind your child that there is an end
Sometimes kids are so busy looking at tomorrow that two months seems like a long time. Remind your child that they need to remain focused and make the best of the next two months. The consequences of not staying focused can be repeating the entire year or term all over again. Two months is a short time not to have to repeat five or ten months of work. Over my many years of teaching, I can’t tell you how many times just reminding a student that they just have to work for “two more months,” has helped a struggling student hang on and work. Once they do this, there is a pride in them that is priceless.

Contact your child’s teachers
Just about every teacher I know likes a proactive parent. Don’t wait until there is a problem before your call the school. Call each of your child’s teachers to make sure that he had done all of his work up to this point and address any issues that may come up. Also ask teachers to pay special attention to your child to make sure that he does not fall through the cracks. If you let a teacher know that you want periodic updates of the good and the bad, they will be happy to oblige.

Provide structure and supervision at home
Make sure that your child has a place to do homework in a way that is best suited to his learning. Some kids do well with music playing or even the television on. The temptation, as parents, is to shut these things off and make your child work in silence. Learn what works best for your child and provide that structure. But don’t forget to supervise. Don’t just take his word for it when he says he’s finished his work. Check it. If is is not up to your standard then it wont’ be up to his teacher’s standard. Make him do it properly. If your child has trouble remembering where he wrote down his assignments, provide him with a notepad (or an App on his smartphone) so that all assignments are in one place. Also, have a home calendar to write down all assignment due dates.

Provide rewards for good work and consequences for poor work
If your child is showing improvement, give him a small token of appreciation to show that you have taken notice of his effort. A little acknowlgement goes a very long way with kids. On the flip side of that coin, make sure that there are consequences for poor effort. If your child is still slacking academically but texting manically, let him know that he will lose his precious phone until he learns to balance his school and social life.

If your child manages to pull through and work for his grades, he will enter the next year knowing that he has the ability to push through succeed, even when he doesn’t feel like it. That lesson goes a long way in school and in life.

by Simone Gobin