Finishing the School Year Strong

Time Management 
We’ve all been up at midnight, helping our child finish their project that is due TOMORROW, which they forgot about… until now. If this hasn’t happened to you yet, it will. It happens to the best of students, and honestly, it’s a good life lesson for them. BUT, if that sounds like something that happens regularly in your house, perhaps you want to consider encouraging your child to start implementing some of these strategies.

  • Write down important dates – They can write due dates down in their planner, put them in their phone to get reminders, or even take pictures of the board (with permission from the teacher, of course). They just need to find a strategy that works for them.
  • Divide large assignments into smaller parts – Students should start working on projects as soon as they get them. The first night they come home with a project, they should break it down into smaller parts, to complete a little at a time. For each step, they can give themselves a due date. This will also help you check their progress along the way. For other large assignments, such as a hefty math assignment, students could take the total number of problems and divide it by the number of days they have to complete it. Each night, you can check to make sure they completed that specific amount.
  • Complete assignments on the day they are assigned – With block scheduling, many students want to complete assignments the night before they are due. This often creates multiple problems. What if they have issues completing the assignment (e.g. the Internet isn’t working), or the assignment takes longer than anticipated  to complete? Completing assignments on the day they are assigned will give students an additional day, in case they have technical issues or need more time. Additionally, working on assignments from that school day causes students to complete work faster, as the information is still fresh in their mind.

You know your child completed their last assignment because you helped them with it. Now they have a zero in the Grade Portal because they forgot to turn it in.  On top of that, the directions for tomorrow’s assignment didn’t make it home.  If these sound familiar, some of these strategies can help.

  • An organizational system – There are tons of organizational strategies, but you have to find the one that works for your child. If a method still isn’t working at this point in the year, you should try a different one. Here are a few options to get you started:
  • Use a three ring binder for each class
  • Use only one binder with all classes in it. You can separate subjects with tabs.
  • Composition notebooks are a great alternative for students that don’t successfully use binders.  Pages won’t get ripped out, and handouts can be glued in.
  • Additional organization to try:  color code the tabs/notebooks/folders by class, and have a designated turn in pocket for each class.
  • A Day/ B Day Bags – I have seen the following happen too many times. “I grabbed my B Day bag on accident this morning. I don’t have anything I need for today.” If you can, avoid A Day/ B Day bags altogether by finding a way to get everything  to fit in one bag. If you feel this is not attainable, have your children pack their backpack as part of their bedtime routine. Evenings are typically less rushed than mornings, helping to minimize bag mix-ups. Also, find a place by the door to store bookbags, and find a way to label them “A Day” and “B Day.” This way, students are sure which bag they are picking up in the morning.

Study Habits
If you ask your children how they study, you will most likely hear one of the following responses, “I read over my notes a few times.” “I read over the chapter again.” “I do the homework/practice problems.” None of these are effective study habits, and your children are likely not seeing the test scores they could. This can change with the implementation of good study habits.

  • Study daily – studying is not something that should take place right before a test. Studying needs to take place every day for long term retention. If you have a student that makes good grades on homework and quizzes, but scores low on tests, it could be because they are not studying/practicing their skills. This results in the child only retaining the information for the short term. Try setting a minimum amount of time that you expect them to spend on schoolwork. Even if they don’t have much homework that night, they should continue working for their minimum amount of time by studying the material they have been covering in class.
  • Help students find ways to study using a variety of learning modalities – If we use information in a variety of ways, and often, we are more likely to retain the information long term. According to Edgar Dale’s Cone of Experience, people remember 10 percent of what they READ, 20 percent of what they HEAR, 30 percent of what they SEE, 50 percent of what they SEE and HEAR, 70 percent of what they SAY and WRITE, and 90 percent of what they DO. Have your child create flashcards and practice them aloud with you, create their own questions from their notes and then you can quiz them, have them teach you about what they are learning, etc.

Breaking old habits and forming new ones is hard. According to a study performed by Phillips Lally, a health psychology researcher at University College London, on average, it takes about 66 days for a new habit to become automatic. This is only the average.  Depending upon the person, the time can range from two to eight months, so it is important that you help support your children in making these new habits stick. Check up on them regularly to make sure they are implementing their new strategy. Encourage them to continue by finding a way to reward them for their efforts. Perhaps you decide to reward them every week they successfully implemented the strategy each day. You could also choose to reward them for their efforts in unpredictable intervals.  It is usually best to start with scheduled rewards and move towards reinforcements that are randomly given AFTER you have seen repeated consistency in the behavior.

Your child will be more likely to reach their goals if you set up mini milestones and celebrate them. It will help them feel like they are making improvements and accomplishing the task at hand, and it will motivate them to want to continue working at changing their habits.

Beacon is available to assist families in providing a more detailed, individualized set of strategies that can work for your children. We can also help you with setting up and implementing the strategies. We are here to support your family in all of your educational endeavors, and we want to see your children succeed. Our ultimate goal is to get them to be successful on their own. Implementing these sort of strategies is what will make difference in the long term.

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