9 tips to keep tweens and teens from “checking out” at the end of the school year

By Rayma Griffin, MA, MEd

It’s common for kids to lose interest in their work during the last weeks of school. They’re ready for summer break and in no mood to study! Tweens and teens with learning and thinking differences can burn out and get stressed even faster because of the extra effort it takes to complete their work.

But final exams and assignments must get done, so it’s important to help kids stay engaged. Use these tips to make sure kids don’t check out as the school year comes to a close.

1. Stick to a healthy sleep schedule.

In the last weeks of school, kids often stay up late to study for final exams and to finish projects. But lack of sleep can cause extra stress for kids and leave them too tired or cranky to concentrate. To avoid this, try to make sure they don’t wait until the last minute and have to rush through their work. Help prioritize what to do first so they can get to bed on time.

2. Get some fresh air.

Encourage kids to spend time outside. The fresh air will help them feel energized. A quiet spot outside for reading or studying can break up a typical homework routine. You can even take a short bike ride together before it’s time to do homework.

3. or.

Help kids plot out their final assignments on a calendar. Working backwards from due dates and seeing the tasks broken down into doable chunks can give them a confidence boost. It can also make the workload seem less daunting. First list the due dates for all assignments and tests in one color. Then, using a different color, break down the tasks into smaller steps.

4. Set realistic goals.

Once you’ve plotted out the final assignments and tests, help set specific goals for each. Make sure the goals are attainable. Some kids might read an extra 15 minutes a day to finish a lengthy reading assignment. Or create their own study guide for a test to prep for a particularly difficult exam. Be sure to praise their efforts as they work toward their goals.

5. Build in incentives.

Some kids need help staying motivated as they work toward their goals during the last weeks of school. Build rewards into the study routine and encourage them to take fun breaks. For example, put a special dessert or activity on the calendar as a reward for completing the first step of a writing assignment. Or plan a movie night as an incentive for completing a dreaded project.

You can even plan something special for the last day of school, like a small celebration at home with friends or a fun outing.

6. Focus on accomplishments.

When kids have had a difficult school year, it may have taken a toll on their self-esteem. They may dwell on their struggles and feel like giving up. They may even decide to blow off their remaining assignments and tests. That’s why it’s even more important to be your child’s cheerleader as the school year comes to a close. Remind kids of their strengths. Extra encouragement can be a confidence boost and may help kids stay on task as summer approaches.

7. Tune in to what they’re not saying.

The end-of-year workload can freeze tweens and teens in their tracks. Kids may be quieter and more reserved than usual. They may avoid asking for your support or suggestions. These can be signs that they need your help more than ever. Ask questions about school, deadlines, and friends. Stay in touch with teachers and ask what they’re seeing, too.

8. Limit new activities.

It’s important to keep a healthy balance between academics and outside activities. But with all the added schoolwork at the end of the year, it may not be the best time to add a new extracurricular. It could compromise homework and study time. (Read why one mom chose extra help for her child over extracurriculars.)

9. Set the tone.

The end of the school year can be tiring for parents, too. You may be eager for the slower pace of summer days. But when parents stay engaged and help kids stay on top of end-of-year tasks, it can motivate kids to do the same.

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    About the author

    About the author

    Rayma Griffin, MA, MEd has spent 40 years working with children with learning and thinking differences in the classroom and as an administrator.