10 Ways to Finish the School Year Strong
It’s so easy to run out of steam at the end of May– but it doesn’t have to be that way! Here are a few tips for parents and kids so they can finish the school year strong!
True Confession: I’m a much better September parent than a May parent. The onslaught of events, games, parties, performances, or an extra awards ceremony can send me into a tailspin. It’s as if the year’s events and memories have to be condensed into the last 30 days of school!
Both students and parents sometimes struggle to maintain the same sense of optimism and momentum they had at the beginning of the year. So here are a few ways to stop the pre-summer slide and stay strong. Some are just generally good life habits, so if you haven’t been doing things like making your bed, it’s always a good time to start!
1. Advocate for Yourself.
This lesson should probably start in August or September and will serve them well for the rest of their lives. If you don’t do well on a test or project, don’t sulk about it and accept failure! Talk to your teachers, find out what went wrong, and how you can improve. In many cases, if you perform really poorly on a test or project, they’ll let you make improvements and raise your grade. Even if your grade remains the same, you’ll learn valuable information and tools to do better next time.
2. Don’t Settle in School.
It’s one thing to struggle with a subject and not get the highest grades. We all have strengths and weaknesses. It’s entirely different to do poorly on projects or work because you didn’t put in enough effort. The end of the year is prime time for exams, tests, and projects that test your knowledge of everything throughout the year. May isn’t the time to mentally run out of gas! Refuel your metaphorical tank, buckle down, and do your best.
3. Don’t Compare Yourself With Others.
Your best might look completely different than someone else’s best, and that’s okay! When evaluating how to finish the year strong, filter out the other factors that might make you feel less than great about yourself. Think about the subjects or activities that bring you joy, and hone in on those. That doesn’t mean you must ignore the rest but celebrate your unique gifts and abilities.
This simple principle applies to parents as much as to kids! Some parents might appear to have extra capacity as they plan the end-of-school-year parties, teacher gifts, make homecooked meals, and drive kids to daily sports practices— all while working lucrative full-time jobs and looking like models! I know I am definitely NOT this parent! Focus on the things that bring life to your family! Don’t let a comparison trap steal from you.
4. Don’t Settle in Your Friendships.
Maybe you’re best friends with most of her classmates, or perhaps they struggle to click with new people. Whether they have 50 friends or 5, make sure your friends bring out the best in you. Don’t waste time on people who are mean, petty, or make you feel worse about yourself after you spend time together. This doesn’t mean you won’t get into disagreements or fights but invest in the people who bring out the best in you.
5. Celebrate the Things that Bring You Joy.
Do you love to play sports, create art, or play an instrument? Spend time and energy working on these activities outside of school that enrich your life. The benefits of extracurricular activities, both organized and spontaneous, extend far beyond the classroom. For example, playing piano can help sharpen your memory and hand-eye coordination, and competing in sports has a wide range of mental and physical benefits, like improved confidence and stress reduction. While it could take years to hone these skills, the years of practice will pay off sooner.
6. Ask for Help When You Need It.
Beyond the classroom, your parents, coaches, neighbors, guidance counselor, or friends want to see you do well. Look for the people in your life who can help guide and shape you into the person you want to be one day. These people might be in your family or elsewhere in your community, but they can make a tremendous difference in your life.
7. Look for Ways You Can Spread Kindness.
Similarly, look for the people who you can help. Who needs a friend? Who might need tutoring, help with odd jobs, or a shoulder to cry on? When we shift our focus from how we can get help to how we can give, it improves the lives of others and makes us happier, too. Several studies demonstrate the value of being kind, including better mental health and improved self-esteem. So if you feel like you’re running out of steam as you finish the school year, look for ways to brighten someone else’s day. Chances are that small kindness will make you feel better, too.
8. Make Your Bed.
You might have a ridiculously long to-do list or trouble waking up on time to make the bus in the morning, but it only takes about a minute to make your bed. This simple ritual helps you start the day by checking off at least one thing on your to-do list. Research also indicates several mental health benefits of making the bed, including less stress, better sleep, and a better sense of well-being. So as the siren song of summer lures you into neglecting this task, spend this minute pulling up the sheets, straightening your pillows, and setting a firm foundation for your day.
9. Clean Your Room
When we have clean, organized environments, we’re more likely to think more clearly. Despite studies indicating that a messy desk encourages a creative mind, there’s a reason the organization and de-cluttering industries are so massive!
10. Embrace the Power of Atomic Habits.
If you’ve had a rough, unfocused year, it’s pretty challenging to go from failing grades to an A+ before commencement exercises kick in. That’s where atomic habits kick in. James Clear‘s book on the subject does a beautiful way of sharing these insights, but essentially, atomic habits are little changes that, when done consistently, yield massive results.
If, for example, you want to run a marathon but can’t entirely run around the block yet, you’d start small. You might first decide you are a marathon runner and then evaluate potential activities based on what a marathon runner would do. You could then purchase gear so you look the part, then start your day by starting the habit of putting on running shoes and your clothes without running at all. Once you establish that habit, maybe walk a mile, then jog a mile, then two, etc. In time, these gradual, consistent changes can transform you into the person you want to be.
So for those who want to finish the school year strong but had a bit of an off year, you can start preparing now for future success.
Finish the School Year Strong!
Even if your motivation has taken a slump over the last few weeks (or months), you can still make it to graduation day feeling great. These habits will also last you throughout the summer, so if you haven’t embraced them this year, there’s always time! What are your most helpful school habits? Let us know on social #getfamilyapp!