finish strong

Helping the Kids Finish Strong at the End of the Year

Believe it or not, teachers and students are already looking at the wind-down of the current school year. We raced through the fall, we negotiated an interesting winter, and now we’re well into the spring. Ready or not, summer is just around the corner and with it hopes and dreams for the next year. It’s not too late to finish strong.

The school year is a marathon of sorts. Now, they have to make it across the finish line on their own two feet. We nagged our kids, and we encouraged them too; they’ve come a long way. Now it all comes down to finishing strong. So here are 5 important things to do as they round the last turn.

1. Remind them to show up.

Showing up counts. It doesn’t matter if it’s a series of missed pop quizzes in high school, a formative science field trip, or a couple of spelling tests in the second grade. Being there, participating, is 99% of the battle. Learning well is a community experience, and if our kids miss too much for whatever reason, the repercussions are developmentally real.

2. Talk with the teachers.

Learning also plays out in the context of relationships. Keep communication open with the teachers and approach education as a team. Families that talk with their kids’ teachers are seldom blindsided by end of the year surprises.

Children are more likely to rise to the occasion when they believe they actually have a chance to succeed.

3. Keep expectations reasonable.

Know your kids, their learning history, and their capabilities. Always look for improvement, but make sure your expectations are in line with what is reasonable. Children are more likely to rise to the occasion when they believe they actually have a chance to succeed.

4. Be an encourager.

Encouragement always bears more fruit than disparagement. Be firm, be kind, be realistic, and be a cheerleader.

5. Cultivate a culture of family learning at home.

When the family values learning, so does the child. Limit screen time. Keep the TV off during dinner and homework time. Sit down alongside your child and read, or do a crossword, or do some of your own homework. Celebrate learning and participate in it yourself.

All these factors will serve to encourage and support your child as the academic year winds down. It will also set a pattern for the summer break and lay a foundation for next year. The commitment to finish strong will result in beginning strong too, and that’s half the battle for fall—and fall will be here before we know it.

Sound off: How do you keep your children motivated and engaged at this time of the year? 

Huddle up with your kids and ask, “What do you believe will make the difference in helping you finish the year strong?”