by Christina Katz

Kids are not the only ones who suffer from the summer slide. Parents also struggle to remember all of the important information that seemed so clear right after school got out. Before summer vacation, take a few minutes to prepare and plan with your kids with these five steps:

Review the Past Year

Academics. How did each child perform academically? Does anyone need extra help in any subjects? How about in any specific areas within subjects? Do you need to request a different class placement for next year? Do that before the school year ends.
Homework. How did each child manage last year’s homework load? Do you need to work on improving organizational skills? Does each child have a designated homework area at home? How about a way to keep papers sorted so they don’t have to carry everything around? How can you set each child up for increased organizational success next year?
In-School Extra-Curriculars. Was each child satisfied with in-school extra-curricular activities? Do you need to contact any teachers to ask questions about next year? Do it before summer vacation begins – most teachers will not be available over the summer.
After-School Activities. Was each child satisfied with what they chose? Was anyone over-scheduled or under-scheduled? Do you need to contact any coaches or administrators to ask about tryouts or auditions for next year? Collect important dates and ask about fees you will be expected to pay.

Assess Patterns

If one of your children is under-performing in school and seems to have too many activities, is there a connection? Should you beef up on tutoring over the summer or cut down on after-school activities next year or both? Consider what will best support and motivate each child based on personality and past experience. Strive for progress, not perfection.

Sort Papers

Don’t start your summer with a lot of paper and digital clutter. Strive to retain only a few papers from each school year. If your child created many bulky projects, line them up for a quick photo shoot before tossing them in the recycle bin. Personally sorting through each child’s papers and projects with her will give you insights about how to steer your child toward improvements next year.

Contact Advisors

Feeling stuck about what to do to help improve your child’s school year? Do some research. Reach out for more help. See if the school can provide you with access to a specialist. This is especially important if you are feeling upset about trying to meet any of your children’s needs yourself. Parents often forget that there are resources, experts and specialists all around them. Rather than talking to friends or family members, reach out in a more targeted manner and collect helpful data, so you can make more informed decisions for next year.

Visualize a Better Next Year

At the end of the school year, sit down with your child and have a conversation about a better school year next year. First, congratulate him on everything he did well last year. Be especially complimentary about any improvements he made since the year prior. Then ask what he would like to change next year. Cover all the angles: academic, homework, in-school extra-curriculars and after-school activities. You might be surprised by some of the answers you hear. Listen to everything he has to say, then offer some concrete suggestions you think will help him have a better year next year.

Make a Cheat Sheet for Back to School

Taking all these steps will improve your memory when school starts back up again. But just in case, write it down. Before the school year is done, get out your calendar or electronics and mark down any critical sign-up dates or fee deadlines for next year’s academics or activities. Make a master to-do list with actionable steps you need to take before school begins, such as ordering special clothing, equipment or performing workouts to get ready for athletic training. Make sure children who are mature enough update their own calendars, as well. Schedule dates to take care of any shopping before school starts, so you can stretch summer out as long as possible.

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