How to treat your kids’ spring fever

This week, we ushered in spring with a fervor after most of the nation has experienced a rougher-than-usual winter. The weather has warmed, the blooms are appearing and… our kids are losing interest in school.

Once Spring Break arrives, kids seem to take the attitude that school is essentially over, and it’s harder than ever to keep them interested. Just ask any teacher. Most of us are struggling to stay focused after a long year, so we understand exactly where the kids are coming from. But this time of year is crucial for student success. It brings standardized tests such as SAT and ACT, AP exams, final exams, and the last chance to raise a grade – and an overall GPA – before the final report cards are issued. So kids really can’t afford to slack off.

Here are some recommendations for keeping your kids on the path toward a strong finish in the school year:

  1. Rather than tightening the reins, try loosening them a bit. Just like we can’t wait to get out of work so that we can squeeze in some outside time, kids need time in the sun and fresh air to rejuvenate. Encourage or even insist that your kids spend some afternoon time outside for a brain break and some physical activity.
  2. Create some incentives for the days when kids participate in standardized testing. These tests are usually long and mentally exhausting. Help your children balance out these mind-melting days with something they truly enjoy, whether it’s a nice dinner with the family, playing a sport, taking a hike, or just relaxing and watching TV. These are not days to come home to hours of homework.
  3. Most schools realize the need to reduce homework, testing, and projects during testing times. If this isn’t the case with your school, don’t hesitate to talk to school officials about this. Every bit of research out there supports the need for brain breaks, so you have plenty of ammunition to back up your request. Check out this article:http://psychcentral.com/news/2011/02/09/taking-breaks-found-to-improve-attention/23329.html for a clear explanation of exactly what happens when we focus on one task for an extended period of time.
  4. Reward your kids for their continued efforts. Go ahead and agree with them that these last few months of school are tough and be sure to acknowledge when they bring home good grades or spend extra time studying.
  5. When they just don’t think they can make it, remind them that they can do anything short-term. I DON’T recommend a countdown calendar, as it sends the message that school is something to be endured. I DO recommend positive reinforcement and personalized rewards that enforce and encourage perseverance.

This time of the school year teaches kids to push through with tenacity. Help your kids to discover that they CAN do it, that even when they don’t want to, if they keep going, it will pay off in the end.

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