Limping to the Finish Line? Keeping Kids Motivated 'Til Summer Break

Limping to the Finish Line? Keeping Kids Motivated 'Til Summer Break

Are we there yet? With less than six weeks left until the end of the school year, it's common for kids (and parents! and teachers!) to begin to lose a little steam.

The longer, warmer, gloriously sunny days are tempting everyone to ditch their regular routine and fall into a lazy, hazy summer daze. But these final weeks are an important part of the school year and keeping the kids (and yourselves) motivated is a challenge worth accepting. After all, the race isn't over until you cross the finish line.

Here are six simple ways to keep the entire family focused and motivated until that final bell rings:

1. Count Down the Days
Kids have a hard time conceptualizing days and weeks in the same way that we grown-ups can. Five weeks can seem like, OMG FOREVER. Make the remaining days more tangible and easy to grasp by using a simple calendar and marking it with an X at the end of each day. Older kids will get a clear picture of how many school days are really left and little kids will begin to grasp the concept of a day and if nothing else, look forward to drawing that big red X each evening.

2. Look Forward... But Not Too Far Forward
Once you've set up your countdown calendar, use it it to highlight something exciting to look forward to each week. It could be a dance recital, birthday party, visit to grandma's or a trip to a museum. Put a big star or circle around it. Encouraging kids to focus on the fun stuff that happens every week, rather than just that looming last day of school, will help them stay on task and focused.

3. Reward Good Work
Let's face it, parents are as demotivated around this time of year as the kids. The thought of packing another lunch box or struggling through the evening homework routine is enough to drive you mad. But now's the time to buck up folks! Put your best face forward and remember that praise and rewards are excellent motivators. If your kids ace a test or finish (yet another) science project, treat it with just as much enthusiasm as you did in September. In fact, if you need to toss in the odd special treat to mask your own slightly disingenuous enthusiasm—do it. A handful of Smarties will go a long way.

4. Plan A Summer Adventure
Get the kids involved in planning something awesome for the summertime. I hesitate to call it a bribe, but it's a bribe. A fabulous theme-park excursion, a week-long trip to the beach or a long-weekend at a cottage are adventures worth rallying for! Remind them that the big summer event is coming but that they need to keep up their excellent behaviour and performance at school before they can reap this most excellent reward.

5. Let There Be Light
It's kind of daylight savings time that's gotten you into this mess in the first place. Longer days and sunny bedtimes are the first sign for kids that summer is near. Don't fight it! Get the kids outside in that beautiful light as often as you can. Eat alfresco, take a walk after dinner, ride bikes to school in the morning if you can. Allowing the littles to enjoy the light now, rather than waiting 'til school lets out, will help control their impatience.

6. Stick To Your Guns (And Your Routines)
Never let them see you falter! The closer you get to that finish line, the harder it will be to stay the course, but stay the course you must. Excitement will build and that's okay, but a consistent routine for things like waking up and bedtime, healthy meals and scheduled activities, will help keep kids rested and relaxed.

How do you deal with end of the year burn out? Are your kids (and you) getting psyched for summer?


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