Battling spring fever with your students? Here are tips to share with parents so that, together, you can be proactive in the face of it.
By Dr. Patricia McCormack, IHM
Spring fever (read as “settling for less than one’s best”) visits the classroom earlier and earlier each year! Teachers face an uphill battle against the “laid-back” effect of spring, and they need all need all the parental support they can get to keep students on track.
For the benefit of the child, resist the “go with the flow” temptation and instead resolve to remain consistent at home in the ways that support student development.
Practice time management at home.
Organizing time is essential to success. Set realistic goals and use a timer as a periodic “on task” reminder. With young children, play “beat the clock.”
Preview daily homework and establish time frames. If a child becomes blocked by frustration, switch subjects or reverse mealtime or bath time with study time.
Make a list or a task chart. As early as possible, at least by grade five, have the child create the list and submit it for input.
For a long-range project, use a calendar to break assignments into manageable sections. Build in time for library use and shopping for supplies.
Prevent overload. Balance a day with sufficient rest, school, play or unwind time, homework, family time, chores, extracurricular interests, prayer time, bath time, and so on.
At present, being a student is the primary vocation obligation of a child. Sports, dance, martial arts, and other interests are secondary.
Retain school-year schedules.
Homework — Maintain time, place, and expectations for daily homework established at the opening of the school year even when your child reports that there is no homework. In the absence of an assignment, use the time for review or enrichment.
Chores — In the family, chores give a sense of belonging and ownership. Assign or choose by lot age-appropriate tasks that help family life. Review chores periodically.
Mealtime — As frequently as possible sit down together as a family for dinner. Provide nutritious meals that provide protein, calcium, and a balance of fruits, vegetables, and carbohydrates. Restrict sugar intake and fast food. If possible, prepare lunches before bedtime to free time in the morning.
TV, surfing the Internet, social media, and electronic games — Limit recreational access on school days.
Provide sufficient sleep time.
Be consistent with curfew and bedtime rituals (bath, school clothes and materials, prayer). Establish a quieting down time 20 to 30 minutes before bedtime. Eliminate TV, stereo, computer, and electronic media from the bedroom or at least turn off all equipment. Establish a ritual for saying good night. Avoid sleep deprivation, which can lead to decreased attentiveness, decreased short-term memory, inconsistent performance, and quick tempers.
Each child is unique. Parents are the best judge of how much sleep a particular child requires in order to be alert, pleasant, and cooperative the next day. Generally, however, experts suggest that children ages 6 to 9 require 10 hours of sleep; ages 10 to 12 need nine hours; and teens function best with eight to nine and a half hours nightly.
Dr. Patricia McCormack is an international consultant and public speaker on issues of whole-person formation. Contact her at the IHM Office of Formative Support for Parents and Teachers or DrPatMcCormack@aol.com.