We could all use tips on how to finish the school year strong. Imagine that you’re getting ready for a long family vacation. You’re attempting to pack in as much work as possible in preparation for being away, along with managing your normal day-to-day responsibilities. You’re keenly aware that vacation is just around the corner and your manager starts coming down hard on you with what feels like unrealistic expectations. That’s exactly what the end of the school year feels like to many children.
Even for kids who love school, this time of the year can be a struggle; but it’s not over just yet. Finishing the school year strong is critical not only for those end of year exams, but for the overall attitude towards this school year and the next. Spark Math by Spark Education isn’t exempt from the feeling of summer excitement, but we do have a few tips for how to finish the school year strong and prepare for the next year even stronger.
1. Celebrate Cumulative Successes
It’s easy to lose sight of the big picture wins over the span of a school year. We tend to focus on small areas in need of improvement rather than overall successes. Spend some time with your child celebrating the big picture. Create conversations that encourage them to see their own growth and find space to grow more in the remaining time in school.
What can you do now that you couldn’t do when you first started X grade?
What’s your favorite fact that you’ve learned this year?
What’s one more thing that you think you can learn this year that will help you next year?
As the end of school reports come out, don’t look at the grades critically but cumulatively and discuss them together. Where did your child start and where are they now? Celebrate growth and remember that it looks different for everyone, even between your own children.
2. Create Short Term Goals…no, even shorter
When the time until summer break is counted in days and weeks instead of months, it’s time to stop long-term goal planning just for a little bit. Remember back to being a kid, everything feels eternal in those weeks between final exams and hot days with loose schedules and otter pops! Give your family, your child and yourself short term goals.
Instead of “this month,” or “this week,” think “today” and for younger kids, maybe even shorter “in the next hour.” Short-term goals provide greater opportunities for wins, the more wins the less likely you will be met with opposition. After all, everyone loves to win.
These short-term goals are not just for daily academic achievements, but home-life as well.
3. Have Grace & Give Grace
If you and your child want to finish the school year strong, have grace and give grace abundantly. That doesn’t mean allowing for laziness, but rather giving space for their own feelings of pressure or excitement. While finishing one grade can be exciting for some, it can produce anxiety in others knowing that the expectations are even higher for the following school year. While some children may test well, others know that they don’t perform their best in those situations and that can cause them stress. Some kids are just so excited for long days without school and shoes that they are unable to focus on anything that may be remotely seen as an expectation, no matter how normal it may be.
Make extra time for play as a family. Remember that playing is one of the best ways to learn. Simplify your routines by making choices that are easier for you and your family from meals to clean up. Work on chores and responsibilities together so that your child sees that you are with them physically as well as emotionally in these last days of school.
The Long Days of Summer
When the final bell for summer rings there can be a flood of emotions for everyone. Once the initial excitement settles as parents, we begin to wonder what we can do to continue to encourage a positive attitude towards learning throughout the summer.
We at Spark Math wish all of you a strong end to the school year and a fun and safe summer break! Want some great ideas to keep the learning going this summer? Check out the Spark Math Blog or our Pintrest for more great blogs and activities.
Building fun summer learning activities into your schedule can help maintain interest and prevent summer learning losses. It’s a great time to learn to play new games together, sign up for STEM day camps, or try out a free Spark Math class to prepare for the year ahead.