The school year is coming to a close, the weather is getting nice, and the students are getting antsy. For parents, these last few weeks before summer can feel like a marathon, attempting to keep your children from completely checking out from the classroom mentally—without losing your own sanity. Looking for some fresh ideas? Here are five things parents can do at home to keep their children motivated in the classroom through the end of the school year.
1. Give in to the great outdoors
Once the air warms up and the sun comes out, the pull of the great outdoors is hard for all of us to ignore. Make a point of quenching your child’s thirst for time outside during the hours you have with him or her at home. Walk to the local park after school, sign him or her up for an outdoor sports league, take a weekend day trip to go hiking, or simply eat dinner in the backyard as a family. Any time you spend outside with your child will help manage his or her need to escape the indoors while he or she is busy learning in the classroom.
2. Ask questions
Contrary to what you may hear from your child, his or her time in the classroom is valuable right up to the last day of the school year. Teachers are racking their brains every bit as hard as you to keep students busy and learning during the final weeks of school. Help them out by making a concerted effort to get your child talking about that learning at home. Avoid the impulse to focus on upcoming summer activities or indulge in complaints, and ask your child about what the day’s lessons included. As always, express your own interest in those topics—enthusiasm for learning is infectious.
3. Maintain a routine
The days may be getting longer and summer activities may be getting started, but that’s not an excuse to disrupt the school year routine. Make a point of maintaining consistency in your child’s homework time, family mealtime, bedtime, wake-up time, and any other daily rituals you have. This will help keep your child in the mindset for school and improve his or her focus in the classroom right up to the last day of the school year.
4. Reflect on the year
For students, each school year is a distinct experience. As the school year is wrapping up, make it a priority to help your child reflect on all that he or she has learned and done in the classroom over the past nine months. Try having your child write a letter to his or her younger self from the start of the school year—what advice would he or she offer, what challenges can he or she expect, and what should he or she look forward to? This kind of reflection is a great way to get your child thinking about all the progress he or she has made throughout the year and motivate him or her to keep up the academic momentum.
5. Provide some incentive
Never underestimate the motivating power of a little reward. Think about different incentives you can offer your child for displaying continued effort and achievement at school during these final weeks. Maybe it’s an extra hour of TV time if he or she finishes all of the night’s homework before dinnertime or a special outing if he or she achieves a certain grade in a subject that has been challenging. Big or small, dangling a carrot can make a big difference in keeping your child engaged at the end of the school year.