DON’T Pump The Breaks!

How to help your child thrive in November and December.
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Right after Halloween, my mind begins to make a mental shift.  To be specific, it shifts to turkey, dressing, yams, sweet potato pie (or pumpkin pie if you so choose!) AND I start thinking about the holiday season and everything that goes along with it.  You might be wondering, “David, why are you talking about these things? What does that have to do with my child?” I’m glad you asked!

When I was a mathematics teacher something started to shift in the environment around this time of year.  Students began to become a little antsier and lose focus. There were so many events and activities happening both inside and outside of school that sometimes it was difficult to help my students keep their eyes on the prize.

Students tend to be “extra” excited during this time of the year.  By now they may be experiencing mental fatigue and the holidays can be a welcome break.  The challenge is that even though they may feel like pumping the breaks mentally, their assignments, exams, and projects will not!   I want to share a few tips to help your child achieve success during the months of November and December.

  1. Find out what major exams/projects will occur between now and Winter Break.  Depending on the school district it may be mid-term/semester exams or a string of daily assignments.  Make sure to keep up with your school newsletters, Remind alerts, teacher emails, or teacher websites that share this type of critical information.
  2. Don’t wait till the last minute to get work done.  Help your child to paint a realistic picture of what it takes to finish their school work.  Procrastination can really come back on them quickly if not managed properly.
  3. Set up a daily plan for studying, homework, and projects.  When your child comes home from school they need to know what they are specifically going to do each evening.  Nothing should be a surprise to them (or you!). Hold them accountable to their schedule.
  4. Make sure to reconcile your calendars.  Families can get busy with different activities that may conflict with your child’s ability to get their work done.  Make sure your child has adequate time allotted to complete everything on their plate and still attend holiday concerts, family gatherings, and parties.

One of the biggest challenges that don’t fall into the tips listed above is the psychological aspect of holiday learning.  Please note that I’m not a trained psychologist but I noticed the same patterns develop year after year. It goes something like this.  Around week two of November students become ansty. They begin to lose focus and they place it on the upcoming holidays. The weeks between Thanksgiving and the Winter Break become more festive and the students start feeling some kind of way.  

Have a conversation with your child to gauge their motivation during this time of the year and come up with a plan to make sure they keep the pedal to the metal!  One mental slip can cost them dearly. The main point here is for you, as a parent, is to gauge, encourage, and support them during this season so they can maximize their grades.  There’s too much at stake to allow a few weeks or mental fatigue to become a hiccup on their report cards! You can do it! Take them to go to the next level and bring out the best in your child!  Until next time . . .

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