Winter Blahs

piles of books.jpgPointers for Parents are regular SHORT inspirations to bring hope and encouragement to parents. I hope to build a bridge between parents and teachers as it pertains to the education of children and how we can work together for the betterment of our kids.

A new year is a new start.  It is true for us as adults, and it is true for students as well.  Actually the time between Christmas and Spring Break is some of the most intense instruction, interrupted only by a snow day or two here and there. Ask any teacher and they will tell you that the main thing they hope for during these winter months is uninterrupted instructional time.  It is fast and furious, and to get every standard in before testing, is a challenge even if every minute is used properly.  For parents it is a season to double down and help your child to set some new goals regarding schoolwork.  Otherwise, spring fever starts early.  Yikes!  Here are some pointers for getting the most out of the winter months and avoid the winter blahs.

  • Have your child in school all day, every day. That may sound like common sense, but you would be surprised and how tempting it is to sleep in on a cold morning, or to check out early for an appointment that could have been scheduled after hours.  In winter there are sniffles in the air, or they plain just don’t feel like doing schoolwork. Even homeschool kids who have more flexibility as to when they do schooling seem to lose motivation in the dreary winter days.  Sit down and make a commitment with your child to attend (mentally as well as physically) EVERY SINGLE DAY.
  • Reiterate time management. When the projects, tests, and assignments ramp up in intensity it is time to have a plan of action.  Whether you use an agenda or some other system of scheduling, remember you can schedule academics as well as extracurricular activities.  When there is a paper due, you can back it up and put rough draft on the calendar a few days before the paper is due.  Then put complete research on the calendar a week before that. This is essential for projects as well. By backing things up and getting them written down your child will learn time management which is a critical life skill.
  • Create organization. By this time of year, the folders, binders, and notebooks are a mess.  What started as a fresh system of order has likely degenerated to a backpack full of loose papers with no rhyme or reason. Take all that stuff out and start over.  Throw out papers that are no longer needed.  Get your subjects back in the correct notebooks.  Organize your work space at home as well.  Replenish office supplies like paper, pencils, glue, and make sure you know where the scissors are.  Disorganization disrupts time management by creating a crisis of not knowing where things are and having to stop everything to find the necessary supplies before the work can even start.
  • Be supportive. That means encouraging your student by helping them stay on top of assignments.  It means helping the teacher to help your child by making sure homework is completed and makes its way back to the book bag.  That means paying attention to work that comes home and going over it with your child.  Celebrate the good scores and review the reasons for the bad ones.  It may look different between private, public and homeschool environments, but all kids are the same and need the care and support of their families.

Being engaged in your child’s education doesn’t mean you take the responsibility from them, it means you find ways to gradually transfer the ownership of their learning to them.  After all, you don’t want to be going to college with them to make sure they get their work accomplished.  Teaching these skills at the beginning of a new season will reinforce them.  Then one day, they will be mature enough to do them on their own and you will sit back and smile at a job well done.

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