It’s early in the school year, the buzz of the first couple weeks has worn off, and habits begin to set in. Some are good, some not so good.
The habits a student practices in September set the tone for the rest of the semester (and often the rest of the school year).
Unfortunately many students follow this pattern:
- Strong out of the gates, even excited about school, teachers, friends. Positive attitude, desire to do well.
- Skate. Things go along “fine” for a few weeks, no big red flags.
- The dip. Suddenly, 6-8 weeks into the semester, everything is falling apart. There are some D’s and Fs, maybe some big tests that your child didn’t study for, a cascade of late work, etc..
- Swimming upstream. The rest of teh semester consists of digging out of holes, trying to “catch up”, a lot of avoidance mixed with bursts of effort.
- Semester ends, student may have the desire to do better in the spring, but doesn’t have the skills to be realistic about the time and effort that will require, so the pattern is repeated.
There are some very predictable mistakes that these students make in September, that set up cascading overwhelm later down the line. I know because these are things I struggled with and these are the things I help my clients with. Here are some:
- Planner: Using the wrong type, not “frontloading” it, losing it, not knowing how to use it, not using it consistently.
- Computer: Not checking teacher websites thoroughly or regularly, not checking online grades carefully or often, simply looking at the grade rather than the details and patterns.
- Papers: Do not “overhaul” folders, notebooks, backpacks, lockers, desks on a regular basis, and organization goes out the window. They argue, “I know where everything is” but they won’t admit that they really have no idea how to maintain an effective system for managing the overwhelming amount of papers.
- Advocacy: Not going to office hours to meet with teachers, not willing to email teachers, afraid to ask for help, afraid to look different from others so don’t ask questions in class.
- Routine: Don’t create routines for homework, study, sleep, etc..
- Technology: Not knowing how to limit usage, use late at night, can’t stop, have no realistic understanding of how much time they spend on it or the consequences.
- Peers: Don’t create time with peers to study, work on projects, etc.. Hang out with peers when they should be getting caught up first.
- Self-care: Don’t exercise consistently, don’t wake up rested, don’t eat foods that truly nourish.
- Accountability: Don’t set up systems to help them stay accountable and responsible.
- Help 1 – Wait until it’s too late to get tutors or other help.
- Help 2 – Won’t let parents help. Want to be treated like an adult but actions are not mature enough to be treated as such, lack the responsibility necessary, lies to self about it, pushes parents away and blames them.
- Excuses: Avoidance, resistance, procrastination , not taking responsibility, not accepting help from parents or others.
The solution is to do the opposite of the mistakes! Easier said than done, so it’s better to take some baby steps NOW to make everything easier LATER.
What proactive action can you take now? Do it!