Five Ways to Help Your Student Finish the 2013 School Year Strong

Jim Daly
Have your children been infected with a case of spring fever?
The temperature in Colorado Springs hit 80 yesterday, the trees are now fully in bloom and the grass is a deep shade of green.
For school kids that can only mean one thing: bring on 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:

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.


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.
Follow me on Twitter @Dalyfocus
Follow me on Facebook
Keep up with Focus on the Family on Facebook