February can seem like a difficult month. Winter break has been over for at least a month, and spring break seems very far away. Students in all grade levels are dealing with looming exams and the impending end of the school year. For college students, this may come as early as the beginning of April, while for younger students it may be as late as the middle of June.
But it isn’t just the middle of the school year slump that gets kids down in the dumps, it’s also the weather. For the eastern coast of North America, February alternates between bringing more winter weather or many dreary, rainy days. In fact, as I’m typing this, the sky is gray and there’s a drizzle. For some people, these may be ideal working conditions. However, feeling down can impact school performance negatively. Here are a few suggestions to help get your child back into the excitement of learning.
Take a Field Trip
Schools may be scaling back their budgets and, subsequently, the amount of field trips they take, but that doesn’t mean your family can’t plan an educational activity. Why not try a local museum for an afternoon of learning fun? Many people forget that zoos and aquariums remain open during the winter, and they often have far fewer crowds than in the warmer weather. If your child is studying something specific in school, like Native American culture or chemistry, try looking up local festivals that may have something to do with what is being studied in the classroom.
Undertake a Project
Sometimes, teachers don’t have the time or resources to assign big projects. After all, fitting a creative project into the curriculum can be time-consuming and difficult. Why not try supplementing your child’s education with a project that complements what your child is learning in school? Create a shoebox diorama of life under the ocean, or a science project that shows exactly how a volcano erupts. Even if the project isn’t related to school, you can always bring in math, English, or other skills that will make it school-related. My dad always had my brother and I help him build model rockets which we would then shoot off, and this helped spark our interest in school. After all, intellectual curiosity helps increase performance in all academic subject areas.
Make it a Family Affair
Doing homework can often feel lonely, so why not have your whole family get in on it? Set up camp around the table and have everyone work on something. Adults who may not have work to do at home can read a newspaper, complete a crossword puzzle, or look up new recipes. By having everyone together at the same time committed to learning, you’ll help kids who may be struggling feel better. That way, they’ll have help available for their homework if they need it. Encourage older siblings to help younger siblings if at all possible. If you want to make this time extra-special, why not bring out a few snacks? You may want to make this time designated TV and music free, so that everyone can focus to their best ability.
Something to Look Forward To
I know that I always feel better in the academic trenches when I have something to look forward to. It might be as simple as going out to dinner or a movie with friends, or something as exciting as a family vacation. Either way, giving kids something to expect and anticipate can help them focus better on the task at hand. If you’re planning to take a summer trip, have your kids get involved in the planning process. The promise of something fun may be enough to pull them out of the February slump.
What are some other ideas you have for helping kids through the February school slump?