After months of homework assignments, projects, PTA events, science and math fairs, after-school activities and report cards, we pretty much agree on one thing: everyone just wants it all to be over. Let’s face it, warmer weather, longer days, and the promise of a lazy summer all make it difficult to think about things like geometry. So how can we encourage our kids to focus on their studies through that last day of class?
How are kids supposed to stay focused in the classroom when the warm weather and outdoors are calling their name? How can parents be expected to muster up a shred of enthusiasm for the umpteenth (and hopefully final) diorama project? What else is left for an overworked teacher to say in the weekly class newsletter?
Several weeks of school remain, and in the immortal words of Lenny Kravitz, “It ain’t over till it’s over!” Here are some ideas to help parents motivate kids until that last day of school:
Support the teachers
The best educators know that keeping content fresh and engaging is one of the best ways to hold student interest, so many plan special end-of-the-year projects and activities. Be enthusiastic about these project (and insist that they be completed), and your attitude will rub off on your kids.
Maintain your routine
What’s the worst thing about Daylight Saving Time? Trying to explain to a child that even though it was dark when she went to bed yesterday at 8 p.m., and the sun is shining today, you’re really not trying to trick her into an earlier bedtime. It may be tempting to let routines slide as summer approaches, but keeping the same schedule can help everyone stay focused. Maintain meal, bed, and wakeup times and stick to established routines.
Get a large wall calendar and hang it somewhere everyone will see it daily, and note all-important dates on it. Not only will this help parents and kids see when end-of-year projects and paperwork are due, it can also serve as a reminder of just how little time is left before summer vacation arrives!
Count it down… way down
Now that you have that cool calendar, be sure to “X” off every day that passes. At the end of each week, treat yourself and the kids to a mini-victory celebration. It could be as simple as picking up smoothies on the way home from school, or a weekly at-home dance party to celebrate getting through one more week. Commemorating the end of each week will help everyone stay focused on the fact that the end is in sight.
Take it outside
There is no point in trying to ignore the beautiful weather that’s making kids restless, distracted, and eager to be outdoors. So instead, work it to your advantage and get kids outside as much as possible. Carry their homework assignments to the backyard picnic table. Serve their breakfast and dinner on the deck or patio. Be sure to find 10 minutes every day to just let them run around and play outside after they’ve done the things they have to do.
Bribe without shame
There’s no shame in motivating children — maybe with a trip to that theme park they’ve been begging to visit. Rewards give children something definable and tangible to work toward and can help them stay focused and working hard as the school year draws to a close.
Look ahead to Summer
When you can see your kids starting to lose focus, take a break from anything school-related and start making plans for the summer. Talk about summer camps or family vacations or the lazy days you’ll spend at the local pool. Then, get back to work. Your children will slowly learn that, while it’s normal to be excited for summer vacation, it’s essential to prioritize education as well.
Before you know it, the school year will end and summer fun will begin. With some creativity and focus, you and your kids can stay motivated until then.