Published on April 26, 2016 inParenting on LandOMoms.com
The end of Spring Break means, amongst other things, that we’re in the school year home stretch. Parents of school-age children everywhere are probably saying the same things: Either “finally” or “this year flew by!”
Back-to-school shopping and the treasure hunt for school supplies seem like memories from just a month ago. But in a blink of an eye, we’re all thinking about year-end parties, teachers’ gifts (don’t forget!) and even graduation – whether it be from kindergarten, elementary school middle school or high school.
With the flurry of year-end activities that parents and kids need to navigate, we also have to remember that our children have to work their way through a number of milestones, as well – final exams, projects and presentations.
Your number one assignment as their parent is to help make this time of year less stressful for your child – and you can strengthen some of their own time management skills in the process.
Six Tips for Parents to Navigate the Whirlwind Known as the End of the School Year
1. Create a kid’s calendar
Make a big, easy-to-read calendar for each child – using a poster board or even the backside of leftover wrapping paper. There’s probably less than a month left in the school year, so be sure to include every day between today and the last day of school.
If your children are younger, have them help you decorate and personalize their own calendar. And for older kids? You know the routine – give them just the right amount of instruction so they can make their calendar on their own. Just be sure to find a place to hang the calendar that is visible every day!
2. Organize who, what, when, where?
List on the calendar every final exam, test day, due date for big projects or other key end-of-year requirements. For younger children, you’ll want to get that information directly from teachers. Older children need to take responsibility for securing this information themselves.
3. Don’t forget…there’s always more
Now use the calendar to show every other “outside” commitment you child has. Soccer practice, piano lessons, scouting meetings – they all eat into precious time!
4. Discuss & set goals
At this point, many parents may be tempted to start filling in those precious unscheduled slots on the calendars with “school work” time. But here’s the golden nugget of this moment: the calendar is actually an opportunity to sit down and talk about some really important topics.
So start the conversation. “You have a busy four weeks ahead of you, don’t you?”
Then find out if your child is worried about things or feeling anxious about anything at school (or elsewhere!). Eventually lead the conversation to talk about goals for the coming weeks. Obviously, a key “goal” is to find sufficient time to complete projects and prepare for tests. But, the real life lesson in this moment is to also talk about the importance of establishing priorities:
Downtime and fun time.
This is one of the most important conversations you can have with your child! Take advantage of this opportunity.
5. Complete the calendar
Having had a healthy discussion about all of the important goals – including nutrition, sleep, exercise and downtime – now work with your child to develop a plan for the coming weeks.
Include specific targets such as “have all vocabulary words done by today” or “finish all practice tests for chapters 6 through 9.” The more your child breaks things down into bite size pieces, the easier it will be for them to experience success.
6. Manage. Adjust. Adapt.
Every couple of days, sit down with your child to look at their calendar and see how they are doing. This allows you to praise them for progress they’ve made and to address any issues. If things do get off track, calmly help your child readjust their plans. Life is full of curveballs so helping your children understand how to deal with surprises will help them throughout life.
Small Ways to Help Make a Big Impact
Your kids are still kids – and they are on a journey of learning how to learn. They won’t get everything right the first time. And, if you have more than one child, each one approaches this journey differently.
It’s important to set the tone in your home for a positive outlook:
Leave encouraging notes on the bathroom mirror or in their lunch bag;
Find fun ways to quiz your child. One of my happiest memories with my youngest child was regularly reviewing his Spanish vocabulary words outside while he shot free throw after free throw on our driveway;
Celebrate the small things! A special dessert for a great week of studying or a fun family night in recognition of getting a head start on that big science project are memories your child will always remember.
And the best part of all of this? If you end the school year on a positive note, you start your family’s summer in the best way possible!