We’ve reached the end of the 3rd quarter, and the dreaded SLUMP MONSTER has arrived. Suddenly, your once motivated child is cranky and snapping at you. Papers are lost. You find yourself checking your child’s grades 80 times a day and having epic battles over not only grades, but also permission slips they didn’t turn in, the week’s worth of snacks rotting in the bottom of their backpack, practicing for sporting events, and even dinner.
We’ve all been there. And it’s painful. It’s hard to imagine how you will drag your burned out child over that fourth quarter finish line. We have a few suggestions for ways you can help your child, and yourself, finish the school year strong!
Keep the Schedule Simple
The end of the school year is packed full of end of year awards assemblies, banquets, recitals, performances, and other things that take time away. All of the additional activities naturally wear out your children. Be cautious about over-scheduling your child – and yourself. Not EVERYTHING has to be done right away. Prioritize school, dinner as a family, and bedtime. Wearing your your child out makes them prone to forgetfulness and crankiness. Wearing yourself out gives you less energy to be patient.
Communicate, Communicate, Communicate
Yes, your child should remember their routines by now. But they are also children. It can take over 200 times for something to become memorized or routine. When children are overly tired, overly busy, and, of course, human…they will forget things. Continue to communicate with your child often, and in a calm manner. Of course it is frustrating when you’ve told your child something 50 times and they forget! But exploding in anger will only result in them becoming upset and blocking your words. Consistently communicate in a calm manner.
Step Away from the Grade Book
It’s very easy to obsess over the grade book. You know Johnny did his spelling work – why is it missing?? It could be missing because Johnny forgot to turn it in. It could be missing because it’s still being completed. Or it could be missing because the teacher simply hasn’t had time to grade it. Children pick up on your tense feelings. They also need some room to learn from mistakes and grow. You will also make yourself crazy looking too often! Give yourself a scheduled time to look each day, and then let it go!
Choose Your Battles
Let the small things go. Prioritize what truly matters right now. Kids don’t learn multiple ideas at one time very well. Pick what is most important to you and focus on that. If your child is struggling to remember to complete work on time, make their bed, or bringing their ear buds to school, what is most important? Don’t waste your time on things that will just distract them from the goals that are most important to your child. They will make their beds some day! Or, maybe not. And that won’t keep them from being successful, responsible adults.
Natural Consequences are OK
Natural consequences are an important part of learning and developing. As an adult, if we forget to pay our credit card bill and have to pay interest, we are way more likely to remember to pay the next bill! The same goes for students in elementary and middle school. You are their number one ally and support. But if they forget their running shoes for track, they may be more responsible the next time if you aren’t always able to drop everything and save them. Don’t teach your child to call you for every single need. Teach your children to be planners and problem solvers.
Think Back to Your Childhood
Believe it or not, you were not born able to balance a checkbook, show up to work on time, make dinner, and run eight miles a day. You were a kid once, and you had to go through these same bumps and stumbles. Show grace to your children, and love them no matter what.
Don’t forget to show grace to yourself as well. You can do this! And what a rewarding job you have.