Five Quick and Dirty tips to Help your Child end the School Year Strong
Here in Florida, we are headed into the final quarter <sob>. This means I am starting to see my students wrap up their successes and struggles, and kick off the final march towards summer.
How can you make these final few months awesome? Let's look at ideas to make this final quarter (or stretch depending on where you are) a success!
1. Communication- What happened quarter that left your kiddo feeling icky? Was it grades? Peer pressure? High levels of stress? Ask your child what their goals are for this quarter. Listen without judgement. Then, ask your child what steps they can take to achieve these goals this quarter. For example, the last few months your child was in trouble for talking in class. Ask them to brainstorm ideas to keep them out of trouble. Some common suggestions my kiddos make include: moving to the front of the class, sitting apart from friends, and trying harder to focus. The first two are concrete plans of action your child can take. Trying harder to focus is not as concrete. You may have to dig a little deeper and ask, “What was it that didn’t allow you to focus the last few months?” The goal is to have your child come up with ideas that are concise plans of action they act on and you can measure.
2. Advocacy- Encourage your child to reach out to their teachers via email with questions. It is surprising how many students (even in high school) do not know how to email their teachers. This activity teaches them how to find their teachers email, write a proper email, and learn self-advocacy. This is also a great skill for shy students to master. They may not feel confident enough to speak to the teacher in front of the class. Take the pressure off your child by teaching them to communicate by email.
3. Independence- It can be hard to let our children be independent because we like to take care of them. However, it is important for your child’s brain to start learning to fend for themselves. Something as simple as putting your child in charge of packing their lunch each day can start the path to independence. Make sure that you set some parameters unless you want your child to pack a lunch bag filled with Oreos (mmmm Oreos) . They should also be responsible for packing their bag and checking it each night.
What do we do if they forget their lunch, bag or homework? An initial inclination may be to run their bag to school or email their teacher. Instead, let your child figure out the solution. It might be asking the lunch line for a loan, sharing food with a friend or emailing the teacher to ask for an extension. Let your child figure out the solution and then plan for success next time.
4. Rules- If you are coming off a rough semester or quarter, rules and guidelines may be in order. Have a family meeting to discuss any rules before the start of the next quarter. What worked and what did not work the last few months?
What are the rules surrounding the phone and technology? Will your child be able to keep their phone nearby at homework time? Will you have access to their text messages? What are your rules surrounding friends? Do you need to talk to the parents or meet the friend? Setting the rules in advance means no surprise or anger when faced with a new social situation (ok there may still be some anger). Remember, you can always relax rules if your child demonstrates responsibility. Rules should be clear, have amendments based on goals that are reached, and have your child's input.
5. Trust- If you had a tight grip the last quarter, it may be time to see if your child can run the ship. They may flounder initially. However, the start of the quarter is a great time to test it out and see how they do. Set clear expectations, and let your kiddo know when you will intervene (more than x number of missing assignments etc.). Your child needs to know that you trust them at some point. Perhaps now is the best time to try!
Talk with your child and see how they feel about heading into this final stretch of the school year. Happy planning and let the countdown to summer begin!