Finishing the Academic Term with Strength and Excellence

Monday, December 5, 2022 by Catherine Gilliland | December Tips

    Finishing the Academic Term with Strength and Excellence

It is no secret that learners, young and older, are easily distracted. Just think back to your own school lessons that were likely interrupted by the anticipation of trick or treating, the sight of the first lazy snowflakes of winter drifting down, the excitement of school assemblies, or the jitters caused by fire, earthquake, or lockdown drills. The anticipation of school holidays during December can become a certain roadblock to academic progress whether in an actual school building or in a home school. Although we desire our children to experience the excitement that comes with these holidays, however we celebrate, we also recognize the importance of finishing the academic term with strength and focus.

    Finishing an academic term with success ultimately embraces goals for a child's (or teen's) personal management skills, traits of focus, self-monitoring, planning and prioritizing, time-management, impulse and emotional control, and the list goes on. Recognize the weaknesses in your student's skill set and provide scaffolding for them to realize the next level of success during the "pre-holiday-end-of-term" days and weeks. I recognize this is easier said than done, therefore I am sharing from my heart and experience tried and true tips that have proved themselves for parents and students alike. 

Continue to provide a quiet, focused atmosphere for learning. Thoughtfully consider the inputs that derail your child, then guard them from those disquieting sources. These can include distracting holiday decorations and music. Even well-intended holiday events with "off-routine" bedtimes and foods can disregulate some individuals. Know your child and set them up to finish the term strong.

Provide assistance to your child in the area of emotional control by keeping yourself from inciting excitement at inappropriate times. For example, refrain from making comments such as, "Aren't you excited that you only have two weeks of school left until break?" Instead, offer affirmations that strengthen a child's emotional and impulse control. Rephrasing the above comment could sound like, "I recognize how ready you are for a school break. For the final two weeks, though, I believe you can continue steadfastly and complete all of your assignments with excellence. I am here to encourage you."

Some students work best when incentivized. Completing academic work prior to a strong deadline, like the end of a term, is an appropriate personal challenge for a student's personal development. Appropriately motivating rewards are designed to encourage your student to grow to the next reasonable level of maturity. Ideas for motivating holiday rewards could include a special outing the child can experience with you (and maybe a friend) that is holiday themed, a longed-for holiday meal, baking special cookies together, or a completing special holiday craft, etc.

The idiom "if you can't beat 'em, join 'em" comes to my mind as I share the next tip. Although this saying sounds defeatist, in no way do I suggest throwing your hands up in defeat when I suggest simply making wise alterations to your academic schedule and plans to absorb the special opportunities the holiday seasons afford. If you have the option to flex your student's learning schedule, consider wrapping up academics that require more concentration before the distracting forces of the holidays begin. Some families enjoy an academic calendar that takes a six week hiatus from serious academic learning during the holidays. If you are less able to control your student's academic schedule, consider working ahead to complete work that can be completed more successfully without distractions. You may need to contact your child's teacher for these assignments and tutor your son or daughter yourself to make this work. If projects are due just prior to a school break, assist your student putting off procrastination and completing those projects before their deadlines. 

For more tips for setting your kids up for academic success before school breaks for the holidays, see my blog, Guarding Your Holiday Schedules and let us know how these tips help your learner.