Don’t you love spring, that glorious time of year when the weather gets warmer, the days get longer and our kids are daydreaming about the end of school?
But wait! It’s NOT the end of the year yet!
Spring break is when many kids begin to phase into their end of the year “slide.” Teachers know this can be the most challenging time of the school year, academically and emotionally.
Parents realize this when their academic overachiever starts skipping homework assignments, and their struggling student is coming home with an empty planner, and a backpack full of worksheets marked “complete at home.”
How do you help your military kid maintain their momentum and finish the school year strong? Think of the school year as a marathon, not a series of sprints.
Plan to Succeed
You don’t just wake up one day and decide to run 26 miles. Instead, you train and plan for each mile. Kids need to prepare like runners to finish their school year.
A school year has “mile markers” along the way and that last vacation of the year is a significant marker. Use it to map out the rest of the year with your child. Note important deadlines, programs, sports, and family events on the family calendar.
Remember when two weeks seemed liked forever? A kid’s sense of time isn’t quite the same as an adult’s. Kids are more successful when they know what to expect. They need your help to pace their work and space their activities so they can cross the finish line with confidence and without having to be dragged.
Consistency Is Key
At this time of year it’s so easy to play outside instead of doing homework! Have your kids worked hard all year? Yes. Do they deserve to enjoy the fresh air and sunshine? Absolutely! But if your family schedule is to do homework at a certain time of day, then stay the course.
Try to stick to a consistent bedtime, because tired kids do not want to go to school. Keep your regular family dinner hour. You might get called a party pooper, but kids still need that structure in their day. Marathon runners stick to a training schedule and don’t shake things up just because it’s race day! The more consistent you are, the less your kids will slide.
Wrap It Up
We don’t draw a finish line on the driveway or hand out medals, but in our family, we start and end the school year by going out for ice cream. The chitchat at the beginning of the school year is celebratory; at the end of the year it is reflective.
This tradition helps bring closure to the year, something that’s especially important for military kids. Why? Military kids need to wrap up relationships, homes, and experiences every 1 to 3 years. Just like their parents, military kids need to feel comfortable with ending one experience and confident in moving on to the next.
As a teacher, I know that the end of the school year can be an emotional rollercoaster, and these emotions affect academic performance in a flash. Kids can get anxious about their future, whether they are PCSing or not: Will I keep my friends over the summer? Will I like my new home? Who will be my teacher? Get your child’s worries out in the open and figure out solutions together. Talk to your child’s teacher, especially if you have a summer move ahead. Plan your own “closure” activity and make it your new military family tradition.
With planning, consistency and closure, you can help maintain your child’s academic and emotional energy, and finish the school year strong.