by Janeen Lewis
Longer days. Beautiful weather. Children itching for summer. In the middle of spring, it’s hard to keep kids focused on school. But you may find that a strong finish now will lead to a good start in a new school year in the fall. Here are 10 tips to keep your child on the path to the finish line.
1. Send the message that school is a priority.
Communicate to children that school is important. Continue to read with them, ask about homework, and take an interest in what they are learning. Research one of their school topics to extend the discussion at home or visit the library to find more books.
2. Set a goal.
Help your child set an academic goal they can achieve during the last weeks of school. Maybe they want to turn a B into an A, master all their multiplication tables or read a thousand pages. If they meet their goal, reward them with something simple like ice cream or a new school supply or book.
3. Stay on Schedule.
Kids crave structure and knowing what to expect, so spring is a good time to keep routines like homework time, dinner time, and bed time. With spring sporting events like late baseball and neighborhood pick-up games, it is hard to keep kids on track. But make a conscious effort to do it as much as possible.
4. Replace supplies.
By now your child’s notebooks, folders, pencils and crayons probably look worn out. Replacing these inexpensive items can be a pick-me-up that motivates your child. However, try to save big purchases like back packs and lunchboxes for the new school year.
5. Set up an outdoor classroom.
Sometimes changing location gives a child that second wind they need to make it to the finish line. Let children do homework outdoors for rewards while they work. When math problems are completed correctly, they can take a walk or ride bikes. When done reading, they can pass the football or shoot hoops. Observe the family garden during study breaks.
6. Hold an end of the year countdown.
There are many ways to count down the days until the end of the school year. Mark off days on a calendar or put Popsicle sticks or marbles in a jar and remove one each day. You can have a jar of treats that match the number of days of school left. Each day when your child finishes their homework, they can have a countdown treat.
7. Pick out a teacher gift.
Teachers work hard, and it’s good to show appreciation for them. With all the end of the school year events, planning a teacher gift may get shoved to the bottom of the to-do list, so plan ahead. Teachers love gift cards to their favorite teacher store, coffee house or restaurant. And gifts don’t have to be expensive. I’m a teacher and my favorite gifts are handwritten notes and cards from my students.
8. Get next year’s supply list.
If you receive next year’s list before the end of the school year, post it on the refrigerator, and when supplies go on sale during the summer, be ready to purchase them.
9. Clean out the backpack on the last day.
It’s easy to throw the backpack in the corner and not think about it again until school starts in the fall. Resist that temptation, and clean it out the last day that your child uses it. You may find important papers, a note from the teacher, or unused school supplies. Designate a place for the supplies, and go “shopping” in your leftovers before purchasing new supplies for the next year.
Have a dance party in your living room, picnic at the park or create a special family dinner. Enjoy a cookout with a backyard projector movie or visit the neighborhood pool. If in doubt, ask the kids. They’ll give great input about how they want to start their summer break!
Janeen Lewis is a freelance journalist, teacher and mom to Andrew and Gracie. She loves to finish the school year strong with her students and family.