The second last newsletter of the school year will be published in a week and my article is due in tomorrow! I thought long and hard about topics that might be useful for parents at this time of year and I settled on Student Engagement in the Last Weeks of School. There is little doubt in teachers’ minds that during term 4 students tend to “lose the plot”. This is especially true for our year 8 students who, in their first year of secondary school, go to Awards Night early in the term and then watch as older students attend block exams and alternative programs, then enjoy end of year parties. When the countdown has begun and the older kids are closer to the finish line, it is next to impossible for our youngest students to focus. Hence, my idea for the next series we begin today.
PART ONE: Keeping the Kids on Track: Tips for Parents
The end is near and the countdown has inevitably begun. Year 12 students have walked through the gate for the final time. Year 10 and 11 students are in the midst of finalising assessment and will soon be on holidays. Year 8 and 9 students still have a few weeks to go and while the end is in sight, the teaching and learning is far from done! Keeping our Kids on Track is easier said than done when the decorations are dominating and the parties are plenty. We know that every day counts and this is especially true when assessment and reporting are on the agenda.
#1 Stick to the Schedule
Everyone is busy at this time of year. Christmas shopping and parties seem to crowd the calendar along with end of year events and family obligations. There will be plenty of time for shopping and parties when the school year is over. Ensure your child is getting enough sleep and a healthy diet so they can be on top form at school.
#2 Keep in Touch!
Check your email often, keep your mobile phone switched on, write notes to the teachers and do not hesitate to call the school. Consistent communication with the school is important throughout the year and is just as important in the final weeks. Let the school know if lessons will be missed and check up on the homework and upcoming assessment that your child needs to complete. Know how your child is progressing and the report card won’t present any surprises.
Teachers are always more than happy to discuss student progress with parents who are interested.
#3 Talk about School with a Smile!
Your child may not be eager to discuss how they went at school, but you won’t know if you don’t ask. Ensure that there is a daily conversation at home that is about school. The morning argument about whether they have to go to school doesn’t count! Be prepared to ask your child questions about lesson content, assessment items and homework. If your student has nothing to report, go back to tip #2. Comment on their effort and behaviour and what you expect them to do in class. Show you are interested in your child’s learning and ask about school work every day. Do your best to keep it positive; help your child make plans to deal with any negatives that are brought up and support him/her to carry it out. Finish on a high!
Every student is capable of learning something and showing their knowledge in these final days of the school year. Hang in there, the Finish Line will be behind you before you know it!
NB: This is an excerpt from the article that will appear in full in the Morayfield State High School E-Newsletter on 25/11/13.
Stay Tuned for the next parts in the series…
PART TWO: Keeping the Kids on Track: Tips for Teachers
PART THREE: Keeping the “Kids” on Track: Tips for Ed Leaders/ Coaches