“No more pencils, no more books…” Not much can make kids as giddy as the last day of school! But, not so fast! As the school year winds down, here are five things your kids can do to finish strong and get a head start on the upcoming school year before summer break
1. Focus on finals. It’s so, so easy to sort of glide through the final few weeks of school, but many kids have final exams and final projects due which all count toward their final grade. In high school those grades go on their college transcript. How can you keep your child focused? A count-down calendar is a great tool even for older kids. Put it in their room or the kitchen with their final exams or paper deadlines clearly marked. Make a plan to do something awesome like dinner out, a movie night or fill-it-to-the-top frozen yogurt outing once all of the studying and exam taking is over to kick off summer break!
2. Touch base with their teachers. Study after study shows that most students score lower on standardized tests at the end of summer than they did at the beginning. What a bummer to waste all that hard effort they have put in all year! We’re not suggesting your child buries her nose in a textbook all summer, but it’s a smart idea to talk to current teachers and get a summer reading list or suggestions for camps, websites or apps that can help keep skills fresh. Can’t get your child to speak up? Check the teacher’s website or shoot them an email to ask what they suggest.
3. Confirm next year’s schedule. By now your child probably has their schedule worked out for next year. If not, be sure to sit down with them and figure out what classes they are taking. This is so important for the middle school and high school years. If your child is planning on attending college, make sure he is taking the classes he needs – this usually means taking five academic courses a year in English, math, social studies, science and foreign languages. Remember to check in with your school counselor if you have any questions.
4. Update their resume. College applications will be coming sooner than you think. By starting to build a college resume early in their high school career, your child can make sure he’s tracking details about his involvement in extracurricular activities, interactions with teachers who might write college recommendations and other information that will eventually help build a strong application and essay.
Keeping a running log of activities and success stories starting in freshman year can make it that much easier to recreate the high points when it’s time to write a college essay – one of the three most important items in the application process.
5. Make a quick list of achievements and your goals for next year. Most of us make our resolutions on December 31, but for kids, the year revolves around the school calendar. It can be a fun and eye-opening experience for your kids to make a list of what they’ve accomplished (great fodder for that college resume) and capture what they want to do next year. This can be anything from making the varsity football team or earning a role in the school play to getting A’s in their AP classes. Setting goals works great for many kids and gives them something to revisit when classes get tough or they want to skip a practice session.