Five Ways to Help Your Student Finish the School Year Strong

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Five Ways to Help Your Student Finish the School Year Strong

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Have your children been infected with a case of spring fever?springfever1
Many school kids are already focused on one thing: summer vacation!
But wait. Not just yet. There’s still over a month to go in the classroom, even though in many homes the natives are growing restless. My wife, Jean, calls this stretch of time the “craziest” of the academic year. I think she’s right.
What’s a parent to do? How can you help your distracted student finish the school year strong? What’s the best way to prevent your son or daughter from gazing out the window and mentally checking out for the remainder of the school year?
I have five suggestions that I think will help you. Here they are:jonesbeachpool1.jpg

1.   Maintain Your Evening Routine: It can be tempting to let kids go to bed later as the daylight extends longer, and it begins feeling more like summer. But keeping to the same routine and bed time helps keep children in the school year mindset.


2.   Establish a Countdown: You might consider stapling twenty or so pieces of paper together and assigning each one with a number representing a remaining day of school. You can then ceremoniously tear each paper off day by day and maybe even burn it in the barbeque.


3.   Stay Interested and Engaged: As it’s only natural for children to lose focus, so it is with parents. Keep asking them questions about classroom life, their friends and about upcoming end-of-year activities. Whenever possible, use the names of their friends and ask specific questions. Don’t expect them to share unsolicited information.


4.   Cater to and Capitalize on their Interests and Yours: If you’re home schooling, don’t be afraid to be flexible with the curriculum in the final days. One such mom said she sits down with the kids and makes a list of things they are interested in. She then comes up with ways to play to those strengths in their reading assignments or field trips.


But even if your children attend school outside the home, this tip still applies. By cultivating a home environment that stimulates their intellect and interests, you’ll find that summer can be an educational season, too, not just a time to play Farmville on Facebook. 


5.   Incentives Always Work Well: Working toward a big goal can be made more exciting for a child if there’s a reward attached to its ultimate completion. A trip to Sonic (especially when the drinks are half-price!) always seems to work well. Dairy Queen is another popular destination. And no, it’s not bribery – it’s calculated encouragement.dairyqueenvintage.jpg



When it comes to helping your kids keep their eye on the ball as school winds down would you be willing to share any of your own suggestions with other moms or dads? I’d invite you to post your comments below. Finishing well is an important piece of the academic process. You don’t want your children limping across the finish line. You want them leaping!
One of the most significant things we can teach our children is to finish what they start and to do so with strength and enthusiasm. Somebody once said that genius begins great works, but it’s the labor alone that finishes them.
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  • Comment by  Sam:

    Dairy Queen is pure awesomeness. My dad always took us to DQ after a big test or report. Fun to celebrate. Gotta live with excitement. Why be so seriousness? Kids should have fun.

  • Comment by  Carla:

    About 2 months before school is over, I have my kids pick something they would like to have, (for example my son wants this one watch), so I tell them, they can have what they picked, only if they finish the year strong, with good grades and good behaviour.  As encouragement in the last weeks, we swing by the store, so they can see what they picked again  I don't consider it bribery, rather, a reward.

  • Comment by  Michael H.:

    We have a son in year 12, in Australia, and he has about 7 months left. We see so many young people 'drifting off' during this period. We have used a 'carrot and stick' approach. If he achieves a score above a particular level, then he receives a significant reward. If it falls below a level then there is a consequence... below a lower level and there is a bigger consequence. The reward for achieving above 80 (which will get him into his chosen course of study at University) is a dirt bike. If he falls below being on track for that at the end of semester 1 (10 weeks away) then he does not get to drive his car to school in semester 2. If, at the end of year 12 he has not achieved a sufficiently high score to get into any University course (so, below 65) then he has to repeat year 12 again. He has signed up to this approach and is fully on board. In fact, he has been researching makes and models for the dirt bike (should he get a 125 2-stroke or a 250 4-stroke?) and has been preparing his car for when he gets his licence in early July. Having to repeat year 12 is just 'not an option' for him and his behaviours are reflect irroring that belief. Time will tell... we continue to do the 5 things in the article, they are true and time-tested.

  • Comment by  Sissy:

    My mom always took me to Showbiz (now Chuck E Cheese).  Free tokens for good grades!  Do they still have that, I wonder?

  • Comment by  Dianne:

    As a homeschool mom, this is a great time of year to plan a few field trips. It's nice to get out of the house and do something a little different. An added bonus is doing them with another homeschool family. Gives us something to look forward to and lightens things up. Afterward, we may stop at BJs for some ice cream, too.

  • Comment by  shelly:

    I use siblings to spur eachother on. If one kid gets all assignments in on time for one week, then they get to plan a summer outing. The kids encourage eachother to get all done so there are more outings scheduled for summer. I too want to reward finishing strong and reaching for the highest goal.

  • Comment by  Kaethe :

    When our daughter was in high school, she seemed to concentrate best if I was doing something quiet and studious alongside her during homework time. One semester I was in a "homework everyday" type of Bible study, so we sat together over the books. That was a natural jumping-off point for discussions about what each of us was learning, too.

  • Comment by  Amy:

    Ask them what they did each day and about any big projects that will be due the last couple weeks.  Help them set up a timeline to get the project done taking into account all the other spring activities they'd like to do.  Also, get involved in a Moms In Prayer group!  Our biggest prayer for our kids right now is finishing strong!

  • Comment by  Roger:

    Keep our kids involved and participating in daily family Bible reading with a devotional guide to keep consistent.They will learn to be grounded in the faith in what Jesus means to them.

  • Comment by  Susan:

    Jim,Where is that pool in the first picture?  Is that a real place?

  • Comment by  Charlene :

    Several years ago we began a tradition of the kids and I ending the last day of school by going to an authentic ethnic restaurant of their choosing.  Maybe they've studied something this year that caught their interest in history.  Then we talk about that culture.  We don't go out much so this is a treat.  So far we've done Italian, Greek, Indian, Somalian, American (old fashioned malt shop) and Cuban.  At about this time of year we begin talking about where we'll be going--Argentinian?  Brazilian?  Russian?  We'll see...

  • Comment by  elizabeth:

    Yes!  My husband takes our youngest to Chuck E. Cheese every report card to get her free tokens.  It's great father/daughter time!

  • Comment by  Matthew:

    I remind my students and my own chidlren that though their task at school is to learn they also have a purpose greater than the task. I have both my students and my children write down their purpose, post it somewhere to remind them, then I ask them about their purpose.  My son's purpose is to encourage his teacher with kind words.  My daughter's purpose is to ask her classmates for prayer requests, then she prays for them.  This gives them a reason to remain focused, especially my seniors.

  • Comment by  Jill:

    Yes!  Chuck E Cheese still offers rewards!  From their website you can print off different reward charts for different goals and then redeem in store for free tokens!

  • Comment by  donna :

    As a teacher, I use incentives year round.  We have monthly parties, which students are only allowed to attend if homework is completed and behavior meets the class standard.  I make my students work hard, so one hour each month of "fun" is a good way to build community and to just relax.At the end of the year, I always plan a whiffle ball game followed by root beer floats.  My husband comes to be the pitcher--the students love it when "Mr. Gerry" comes, because all students love to know what my life is like outside the classroom.