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5 Tips for Finishing the First Semester Strong

Cory Martin Ed.S.
Students can also struggle to finish the semester with the same effort and enthusiasm they started the year with. They are looking forward to Christmas break and may find it difficult to push to the end. Quite often, it can feel as though they are “limping to the finish.” With that in mind, here are 5 helpful tips that you can use to try and help your middle school student(s) make the end of the first semester a success rather than barely making it by:

  1. Stay Positive: Middle school students are often like roller coasters--they have rapidly changing highs and lows throughout each day. Our job as adults is to do our best to be a voice of stability and support that is a buoy for them when they feel unsteady. Many of them will feel apathetic toward school or possibly overwhelmed at times. Do your best to focus on the positive and encourage them when they don’t feel like finishing. 
  2. Don’t Procrastinate: Some students are perpetual procrastinators, but after a week off for Thanksgiving, many students have a hard time refocusing on their academics and put things off until a later date. Continue to be a source of encouragement, all the while reminding them that they are accountable for their work and preparation. It is important to continue to work on reinforcing the correlation between their preparation, effort, and end result. It will be very valuable for your student to stay on track with their work and preparation as this will limit their stress and anxiety as they move toward exams. Continue to encourage your student to use the OnCampus assignment calendar regularly and stay on top of their work before it piles up, and his/her best effort isn’t given.
  3. Take Attendance Seriously: Not many things can be more detrimental to a students academic success during the school year than regular absences or attendance issues. When students are not at school, it can often take multiple days to “catch up” or get back on track in class. This is another thing that can cause them to feel stressed when they return or not even try because they feel too far behind. Yes, this school year is certainly different than any other, and we do encourage students to stay home if they are not feeling well, but the more it can be avoided and the student can stay on a regular schedule, the better the student will perform. 
  4. Focus on the Finish Line: Even though they may become apathetic and frustrated at times, remind them that there is an end in sight. Also, if they have been successful throughout the semester, encourage them to continue doing the things that helped them be successful before. If your student used a planner during the first nine weeks of school, the close of the semester is not a good time to quit that discipline. Conversely, if your student has not been as successful as he/she would like, help your student set new goals for the remainder of the year and discuss what it will take to achieve those goals. Continue to help them see that they can do it, and it may even help to start a countdown at home. It is always nice for us to check things off a list; the same feeling can happen as they count down the days until Christmas break.
  5. Make Time to Talk About School: The end of the semester can be tough on everyone involved, and I know that it may seem like your student doesn’t want to talk with you, but staying connected at this time in his/her life is really important. This can be difficult at times, but how we as adults model communication is often where kids derive their skills from as well. Take time for everyone to put down their phones, make eye contact, and be great listeners. The more we as adults reinforce this with them, the better they will get, and when students know they can talk openly with their parents or adults, the pressures and challenges of school can be a little easier to overcome.