Is it time for a school year reset?
The beginning of October brings fall colors, rain, and student progress reports. How is Joey doing this year? The school year always starts slowly and then speeds up with a bang. It’s a new grade, with new expectations, and new learning. Everything gets a little bit harder than last year. In some grades (3rd, 7th, 9th, and 11th) much harder.
It’s a good time to go back to the drawing board and evaluate what’s working well and what needs to be tweaked. Kids are eternal optimists. At the beginning of the school year, they are confident— “Sure I can do it all!”. But how has it actually gone?
Autumn sports and activities are also in full gear. Soccer, football, band, and other activities require time, practice, and energy. Is Sarah also able to get her school work done too? Are they doing too much or not enough?
I’m always concerned about sleep. Teens just don't get enough of it. They go to sleep late and wake up early. According to the National Sleep Foundation, teens need 8-10 hours of sleep a night yet most get less than 8 hours. Sleep deprivation doesn't just make kids grumpy. It also makes it hard for them to concentrate and pay attention in school. Indeed, some experts wonder if the high percentage of teens diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder may actually be suffering from sleep deprivation. The symptoms can look very similar.
Are Billy’s grades suffering because homework is late or not getting done? When parents ask— “Did you do your homework?” they hear a resounding “yes” from their child. But that isn’t always the case.
So when the progress report arrives, it’s a good time to step back, celebrate your child’s successes, and consider changes for the next 10 weeks before the New Year.
Here are a few issues to consider:
Teenagers stay up late texting each other when they are in bed. It can go on for hours resulting in even less sleep. The average teen sends 3300 texts a month or 100 a day! Set limits and if necessary, collect cell phones before bedtime. Bedtimes may be inching up and need to be reset back. Getting enough sleep during the week is very important.
Kids benefit from structure, predictability, and consistency. They often do better when there is a set homework time, with a set place to do homework, and someone gently making sure that they are doing it! Trust, but verify. Some kids need a “homework cop” to keep kids on track.
Sigh. This also has a way of inching up—5 minutes at a time until it has expanded to fill unused space. Kids will nickel and dime you into bankruptcy. Set the limit and be firm—Remember kids appreciate predictability and consistency.
Sometimes kids just are doing too much. This is a good time to evaluate whether some activity needs to be scaled back or cut out. At the beginning of the school year, when everything was just starting, it looked ok. But maybe it isn’t in the middle of the term.
Don’t stint on family meals.
Eating together as a family may be one of the most important elements of a healthy family life. Make it a priority and stick to it—No excuses. Family meals provide time to relax, reconnect, and communicate. They're really important.
Celebrate small and big wins.
Small stuff is important. Little steps in the right direction can lead your youngster to the goal line. Be positive and reward movement in the right direction.