By Charlotte Foster, English Department Head, Westminster School
Does your child lose motivation as the school year ends? He is not alone, and many parents find that their child seems to do so well at the beginning of the school year but then struggles more and more as the year begins to wind down. Parents are looking to the finish line as well, and sometimes it seems easier to just let something go rather than address it or make a big deal out of it. Don’t fall into this trap! The last quarter of school is every bit as important as the first, and now is not the time to let go of the rules and expectations. In fact, in some ways, it’s more important now than ever. So, what are some strategies to help your child make a solid finish to the school year?
1. Be a cheerleader. You are your child’s biggest supporter, and he may need it now more than ever. Change negative comments to positive ones, and let your child know that he can accomplish whatever he sets his mind to.
2. Don’t abandon successful routines and habits. The weather is getting warmer, the time has changed, and spring has sprung! It can be tempting to let your child go to bed later, put off projects, get away from screen time limits or other routines that were successful in the past. It’s normal to have an adjustment period, but as the parent, don’t hesitate to say, “Time to get back to the rules.”
3. Regroup. Spring break or a weekend can be a good time to regroup. Set up goals for the remainder of the year. Talk about your child’s accomplishments. Discuss how the end of the year can be a challenge, but it’s not the time to let down.
4. Adjust when necessary. Routines are essential; however, they may need to be adjusted with the warmer weather and the end of the year looming. If your child is having a hard time starting homework right away, maybe some outdoor time before homework is a better spring routine.
5. Partner with your child’s teachers and school. If you start to see a downward spiral that doesn’t seem to be turning around, it may be time to enlist the help of your child’s teacher. Your child’s teachers should be great partners to you with open lines of communication. Sometimes words of encouragement from an educator can go a long way.
6. Reflect/Reevaluate. It may be worth considering if your child’s current school is the right fit. Are the classes challenging? Do the teachers inspire a passion for learning? Is the class size small enough for individual attention? If the motivation problem is not just related to the timing of the school year, perhaps looking at a new school would be beneficial. Many private schools still have openings and offer benefits like smaller class sizes, additional academic challenge, and/or enrichment programs not always available in public schools.
“Nobody can go back and start a new beginning, but anyone can start today and make a new ending,” says Maria Robinson. Each day can be a new start, and spring can be a great time for renewal and recharging. Adults can also feel daunted by the last few months of the school year. It can be helpful to focus on the positive, and know that once spring break is over, the last few weeks of school really do go by quickly. Help your child finish the year on a positive note, and you can both be proud of a job well done.