Those last months of school – and warmer spring weather – tend to make even the most driven student look toward summer and away from the books.
We asked Ellen Green, guidance counselor at Stephen and Harriet Myers Middle School in Albany, for some tips on keeping kids focused.
- Talk to them about school: “A lot of times in our newsletters and things, we’re asking and encouraging parents to check in with their kids,” Green says. “It’s essential, especially during this testing season, that their eyes are still on the prize.”
- Restock: Notebooks are starting to look pretty raggedy and pencils may be worn down to the nub or lost in the crevasses of a locker. New supplies can mean a renewed focus on and ability to complete schoolwork. And make sure, if you have a middle schooler, Green says, to check their agendas, which track assignments. “Notoriously, the middle school student is disorganized, and they start to get distracted.”
- Check in with teachers, whether your kid is an honors student or on the cusp of failing: You can access your child’s grades very easily, Green says, and most districts make them available on a secure website. The last quarter accounts for 25 percent of a student’s overall grade, so a kid who is in danger of having to go to summer school often can save himself or herself with a stellar final-quarter performance. They just need to be reminded it’s their last chance. This also is the time of year when teachers make course recommendations for students, and honors students don’t want to get lazy and ruin their chances of remaining in those upper-level classes.
“(Parents) can even do positive reinforcement incentives with their child for summer fun experiences – just an end-of-the-year, ‘Hey, if you can keep your grades up or pull your grades up, we can do this,’” Green says.
Remember the tests: Kids take a lot of exhausting standardized exams in the spring, so it’s important for them to arrive at school rested and well-fed. For older kids, ensuring that they get a good night’s sleep may mean taking their smartphones away from them at bedtime, so it’s a guaranteed text-free night, Green says.