The holidays are a time filled with favorite traditions -- special meals, giving gifts, family gatherings, and more. Unfortunately, teachers will tell you that another holiday tradition is a general decline in students' grades between Thanksgiving and January. It's hard for students to stay focused on school and maintain good study habits when they are excited about parties and pulled from their regular routines to travel, shop, and celebrate.
This is not the time for students who've been excelling to start slacking, nor is it helpful for students who've been struggling to fall further behind. Many teachers try to wrap up units in December before the break, which means your child will have big projects or tests (summative assessments) at the end of the month.
What makes matters worse is that, for many students, the grading period and first semester will end shortly after the holidays in January, leaving students little to no time to undo any damage done during December. For that reason, it's especially important that parents stay on top of school matters and support their children's academics during the holiday season.
Here are three ways you can do just that:
1. Keep a calendar with important school dates, and review the calendar regularly with your child. This helps prevent school deadlines from getting lost in the shuffle of holiday music concerts, family parties, and shopping extravaganzas. Posting the calendar on the refrigerator and looking it over every couple of days will help you and your child stay abreast of school happenings.
2. Respect your child's school obligations. Now is not the time to pull your child from class unnecessarily or abandon regular bedtimes. Of course there will be times when it's unavoidable, but parents need to ask themselves -- is getting a few hours' jump on holiday traffic worth my child missing the big math test review? Is staying up late for this family party going to make my child a zombie at school tomorrow? Parents often use the holidays as an excuse to drop the routines and structures that help students succeed, and then they are puzzled when their child's grades fall. Be sure that you're not sending contradictory messages about the importance of school during the holidays.
3. Use holiday treats as an incentive to help your child stay motivated. This is a fun time of year! Parents can use holiday traditions and treats as rewards for their children after they tackle their schoolwork. Break up a night of homework with quick round of peppermint hot chocolates, or celebrate a finished school project with a trip to see holiday lights. Talk to your child about the importance of balancing family fun with school so it doesn't all feel like drudgery.
As always, if your child continues to struggle, give us a call. We love to talk to families about strategies to help kids get on track academically. From the Tutor A Team family, enjoy the holiday season!