Longer days. Beautiful weather. Children itching for summer. By the time May rolls around, 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 next fall. Here are 10 tips to keep your child on the path to the finish line.
- 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’re learning. Research one of their school topics to extend the discussion at home or visit the library to find more books.
- 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, learn their multiplication tables or read a thousand pages. If they meet their goal, reward them with something simple, like a treat or a new school supply or a book.
- Stay on schedule.
May brings with it late baseball games, recitals, team parties and longer days of playing outdoors, so it can be hard to keep kids on track. And yet, kids thrive with structure and knowing what to expect, so as much as possible, stick with routines like homework time, dinner time and bedtime.
- Replace supplies.
By the end of the school year, 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 backpacks and lunchboxes for the new school year, when you can take advantage of sales.
- 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. Take study breaks and look for wildlife in the backyard or a nearby park.
- Hold an end-of-year countdown.
There are many ways to count down the days until the end of the school year. Mark off days on a calendar, put popsicle sticks or marbles in a jar and remove one each day, or share a special treat.
- Pick out a teacher gift.
Teachers work hard, and it’s good to show appreciation for them. With all the end-of-school-year events, planning a teacher gift may get lost at the bottom of the to-do list, so plan ahead. Teachers love gift cards to a 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.
- 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.
- 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 of two.