10 tips for keeping your kids focused

May is just a month away, which means that kids are gearing up for final exams, final projects, and final efforts to pull out the desired grade. Some have additional stressors: AP exams, SAT or ACT tests, sports tournaments, the need to find a summer job, or just overall concern about that final GPA. At this point in the school year, everything about students’ body language and attitudes screams, “We’re over it!” So how can you help your kids walk that tightrope by finding a balance between taking school seriously and learning how to decompress?

Here are 10 tips for end-of-year school success:

1. Ask your kids how their note-taking is going. Many kids slack off as the end of the year approaches and need a reminder to take the same quality notes they took at the start of the school year. If their notes at the start of the year were thorough and extensive, and their notes now mostly consist of doodles and single words with little meaning, they will need a nudge back down the scholastic path. Point out the difference and remind them that how they end is even more important than how they started. *Note: If your kids are fond of taking pictures of teacher’s notes on the whiteboard, I urge you to discourage them from this practice. It is a proven fact that writing something down contributes to memory retention; taking a picture of it does not.

  1. Make sure they get their sleep. After daylight savings time, and as the days get longer, kids are tempted to stay up later and skimp on their zzzz’s. Encourage them to hit the sack at a decent time, at least until their last final has been put to bed. *Note: Cell phones are the primary culprit when it comes to late and restless nights. Insist your kids charge up in a different room with everything set to silent. Otherwise, the buzzes and beeps – not to mention their obsessive need to respond to them – will keep them up all night.
  1. Don’t be afraid to contact teachers. Kids tend to think that you are over school as much as they are (and you may be, but they don’t need to know that). Show them that you’re still paying attention by staying involved in their progress. Teachers are your allies and when you work with them, you’ll see positive results in your kids’ success.
  1. Encourage organization, especially when it comes to major projects and tests. What can they do today that will make tomorrow a little easier? *Note: The ubiquitous cell phone is the perfect place for kids to store due dates and scheduled activities. They can customize their calendars to send reminders, so there’s no excuse for forgetting.
  1. Keep your kids in school. Teachers see a significant increase in absences during this time of year, and many are unwarranted. Stress to your kids the importance of being in class every day and staying focused on their number one job.
  1. Offer to help your kids by quizzing them and guiding them through test preparation. Whether or not they accept your help is really secondary to the fact that you offered. When parents show an interest in their kids’ studies, it positively impacts kids.
  1. Make sure your children are well fed on testing days. Protein, grapes, blueberries, and other “brain foods” really do impact students’ abilities to focus and maintain energy. Breakfast IS important!
  1. Reward your kids when they do well or after they have completed a tough study or testing session. It doesn’t have to be monetary; it can just be time to sit and watch their favorite TV program or eat their favorite dinner.
  1. Stress mind over matter. Remind your kids that when they have prepared as best as they can, they should take a deep breath and go into their tests with confidence. Mind over matter is significant in determining testing outcomes, so it’s important that they maintain a can-do attitude.
  1. Always encourage balance. Studies show that taking work breaks rejuvenates the mind and helps us to work better and more efficiently. Make sure your kids are getting exercise and fresh air and socializing with friends and family. These pursuits are arguably crucial to overall well-being.

For more ideas about helping your kids find school success, check out Teenagers 101.