Finishing Strong: How to End the School Year with Confidence and Success
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Finishing Strong

With springtime here and plans for summer activities beckoning, you may find that your student is feeling distracted and not as motivated as he or she has been earlier this school year. Here are five tips to help your son or daughter stay on track and to finish the school year strong.

1. Get organized: It’s time to take stock of end-of-the year assignments and to see what is due and when. Help your student make a schedule to stay on top of term papers, tests and reading assignments.

At this time of year, binders can become full and cumbersome. Desks and lockers can be cluttered with old projects and notes, creating an organizational nightmare. Help your student go through his or her workspace, binders, and notebooks, clearing out information that is no longer needed. Organize current files and projects and then create an end-of-the-year timetable and set milestones for class work and commitments. This de-cluttering effort will help your child stay focused and more productive.

2. Limit distractions: Now that your student’s materials are in better order, it’s time to look at other factors that are competing for his or her attention. Set and enforce limits on social media and other electronic devices—especially that smart phone—that could be taking your student’s attention away from school assignments.

Spring fever—loosely defined as physical and psychological symptoms such as an increase in energy and vitality that come with the arrival of spring—can be a real factor for kids. Springtime weather and outdoor sounds can beckon through open windows this time of year. If you find your student is having trouble focusing, consider a study space in your public library or some other location that offers a quiet, well-lit area as a change of pace.

3. Get some exercise: End-of-the-year papers and finals require mental energy, and physical exercise will help keep your student in top mental form. A 2010 report published in the journal Neurobiology of Learning and Memory revealed that increased physical activity improves the brain’s cognitive flexibility and control. In addition, a study conducted last year at Australia’s University of Adelaide found that even one 30-minute session per day of vigorous exercise can lead to improvements in memory and motor skill coordination.

Encourage your son or daughter to engage in sports or physical activity on a daily basis. Even a brisk walk or bike-ride can do wonders for students’ abilities to retain information as they study for finals.

4. Rest and eat well: Kids often feel pressured when it comes to final papers and tests, but help them resist the urge to pull all-nighters. According to many scientific studies, such as a recent one by the Harris Health Sleep Disorders Center, any amount of sleep deprivation can affect mood and diminish energy levels, which impacts a student’s ability to focus, concentrate and learn.

Encourage your student to maintain a healthy schedule of eight to nine hours of sleep each night and to eat a well-balanced diet with plenty of fresh water to drink.

5. Communicate: One of the best ways you can help your student end the school year with confidence is by offering your encouragement. In fact, your support can result in better grades for your student. The National Center for Education Statistics surveyed the same group of 25,000 students in 8th grade, in 10th grade, and again in 12th grade as well as their parents and teachers. The survey revealed that students whose parents were involved in their education had higher grade point averages than students whose parents were not as involved.

Talk with your student about classes, classmates, teachers, friends, activities, and goals for the next school year. Refrain from lecturing, instead asking open-ended questions and listening carefully to what your student has to say. You also can help your student review material by asking practice questions, reviewing essays, checking math or science problems.  For additional assistance connect your student with a tutor or college admissions consultant.

Finally, take the time to tell your students how proud you are of them and their achievements. Good luck with the end of term!

By Tricia Drevets