A very real potential for the moment of revolution exists, palpable in classrooms where the sunshine and fresh air of freedom beckon on the other side of class windows. Without adequate planning by teachers and specific interventions to engage students on a daily — nay, hourly — basis, Lord of the Flies threatens to recreate its story at almost every school in America.
Boredom & Busyness Blossom in Spring
Unlike the beginning of a school year when the novelty of a new classroom, classmates and teachers provides an almost automatic engagement and interest, the end of an academic year feels like a struggle. It’s no wonder many primary school students prefer the thrill of misbehavior and even the punitive attention of the front office to lingering one additional second in the cage of their too-well-known classroom. College students, on the other hand, are more exhausted and harried than bored. In addition to an often-accelerated syllabus, they’re rushing to complete necessary term papers and projects. There are final exams to study for and often the coordination of a physical relocation back home or to a new apartment.
Possibly the most challenging period of the school year, springtime is rife with daydreams of summer break and lazy afternoons at the pool. Parents will no doubt soon feel as uninterested in school as their children, given the daily struggles of getting ready in the morning and making sure homework is completed in the evening.
College students are often embroiled in bureaucratic requirements they’ve managed to avoid most of the year. There may be parking tickets to pay before they’re allowed to register for fall classes. Emptied dorm rooms require inspection and approval, as do private apartments if rental deposits are to be returned.
Encouraging Continued Engagement
Maintaining an atmosphere of actual learning is doubly difficult at this time of year. One way to convince kids of the importance of finishing the school year strongly is to allow them to do so their own way. That might mean giving them the freedom to create their own homework schedule (with an accompanying warning that the consequences are also theirs, should they fail to complete their assignments), or allowing them to use iPad apps and other “cool” technology to help them keep up with schoolwork.
Apps like Pages (which allows a student to export documents from an iPad to a laptop, making working on papers away from home a snap) or Evernote (which allows for the recording of lectures—especially handy for college kids) can make assignments seem less tedious to tech-minded students. The novelty of new programs like these might help keep your child, regardless of his age or level in school, engaged long enough to finish out the academic year with a bang.
Let’s Get Real
Although it’s tempting to maintain the status quo at the end of the year, it might prove wise to incorporate some new activities or routines to help kids complete the school year successfully. Each parent will need to decide what, if any, changes need to be made to help their children reach this goal because, of course, what works for one student may not be practical or helpful for another.
Here’s a suggestion for the parents of elementary and college students alike: acknowledge the current situation in the ways the student most experiences it, consider what special accommodations might be helpful and work with your child to finish out the year.