Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Spring Cleaning in January? By Mikey Smith, M. Ed.

Spring Cleaning in January?
Preparing for a Successful Second Semester
by Mikey Smith, M. Ed

Remember August? Sparkling school supplies sat waiting to be used by students who sat down at the same time, in the same place each afternoon to diligently work on the evening's homework before laying out clothes and supplies to be taken to school the following day. As the school year wore on, however, these routines seemed to fade away, (or never got adopted in the first place) making each day a stressful blur. January is the perfect time to get back into great habits or to start some new ones. Here are some suggestions:  

--Clean out your student's backpack, lunchbox, binders and folders. By December many students' backpacks are as big as they are, usually packed to bursting with a bunch of outdated and unnecessary worksheets, notices and papers, not to mention piles of candy wrappers and a few wads of gum. Take no prisoners! Dump everything out. If your student doesn't know for sure whether to keep or dump something, to be on the safe side, put it into an appropriately-sized storage tub so that it can be found if need be. Don't recycle or trash anything unless you are 101% sure it will never be needed again.

--Check schedules - some schools change electives or other classes at mid-term. . . and some parents never find out until the end of the year! Make sure you know what classes your child is taking and have teacher contact info for all teachers.

--Re-stock your school supplies. You started the school year with a selection of supplies that would make Office Depot jealous, but now you're down to a few pencil nubs with no erasers and a bottle of crusty White-Out.  While most stores don't have huge school supply sales in January like they do in August, Dollar Stores almost ALWAYS have basics like pens, pencils, folders and notebooks for rock bottom prices.

--While you're at it, check your printer supplies as well. Always, always, always make sure you have at least one ream of paper and extra ink cartridge on hand.

--Evaluate old routines and tweak them if need be for the new semester.  Did your student start off doing homework at a set time in a set place in September but by November end up doing homework wherever, whenever? Try and set up routines for homework (where and when), getting prepared for school, and any other everyday events so they are as streamlined and stress-free as possible.

--We all know a simple calendar in a central location can be the single most effective organizational tool. Get your 2014 calendar up to date by filling in recurring events such as after school practices and doctor's appointments as well as big events such as spelling bees, science fair, or sporting events. Familiarize yourself with spring dates for progress reports, conferences, report cards, etc., so you know when to be expecting them.  This information can often be found inside a student planner or on the school's website.  Don't forget to add spring break!

--Revisit, then re-post family rules and expectations, as well as any behavioral charts or other motivational tools you use to track your child's progress. It is silly to put up the same tired poster or chart each semester if everything on it falls to the wayside by the second week of school.  Post only rules and expectations you plan to live by, or else you're wasting time.

--Help your child set goals for the upcoming semester. We all know we can't reach a goal we don't set in the first place, and the same goes for kids. Remind kids that goals should be measurable and specific. Trying for all A's or the Honor Roll for Spring Semester is a noble goal, but it's also an empty goal if no thought is given to how it will be attained. Kids need your help to map out how they can make their goals reality.

Need some help getting organized or not sure what routines will help your student be most successful? Raising the Bar has a variety of customized programs to help you out:  

The Perfect Fit - Home Consultations to Strengthen Study Habits

It Takes a Village - Successful Strategies for Middle School Survival (Parent Workshop), and  

Organization 911 - Home Rescue for the Organizationally Impaired

For more info visit:
RTB Workshops and Home Consultations

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