If you thought Term 3 felt like hump day, then Term 4 in our house is like slump day. If your kids are anything like mine then you may be seeing a lot of restlessness, weary eyes, dragging feet, “My tummy hurts, can I stay home” or even a major meltdown!
When kids are saying on Monday they wish it was Friday, we know we have some major hurdles to get through before we make it to the holidays.
So what can parents do to ensure their kids are engaged in learning right up until the end of term?
Here’s a list of super parent powers I think you’ll need to get through:
- A fair bit of empathy
- A lot of organisation
- Consistent sprinkling of communication
- A good dose of humour and
- Your biggest cheer-leading skills…ever!
When my kids are starting to go crazy on me and I really want to hitch a plane to Bali (one way ticket only), I try to see things from their perspective first, with a fair bit of empathy (and keeping said plane ticket close at hand).
Let’s face it, Term 4 is a whirlwind, with excursions, swimming lessons, award presentations, Christmas plays, exams, formals, graduations, speeches for leadership roles, orientation days, fundraisers, hamper donations, sport try outs, end of year Masses, end of year parties, mufti days, pizza days, lots of moving around in classes as teachers prepare for next year’s classes, the uncertainty of what class they’ll be in next year, if they will get their favourite teacher, if they’ll be with their favourite friends, and taking that final report card home to show the family and whether it will get Facebooked, and so on and on.
While many of these pressures may seem small in the adult world, they can all become a little overwhelming, exciting or tiresome (depending on your child) in their world and as adults we need to treat these situations with empathy. Trying to understand what they are feeling and for what reasons helps us as parents better equip ourselves to deal with the outbursts, reluctance, restlessness or over-excitement, they may be feeling at this time of year.
This is when we need a consistent sprinkling of communication without over doing it. I know at times when my 10 year old is stomping around the house, my 8 year old is sobbing uncontrollably and my 4 year old is stacking multiple stools to break into the lolly jar stored at the top corner of the pantry, I just really want to get on that plane again! But with my empathy glasses on, I know that this wouldn’t be effective for any of us. Instead finding a space for your child to share what they are feeling and being around to listen… not lecture, or share a hug and some of your own stories is usually the best way to communicate to them that you love them, are trying to understand what they are feeling, and that you are there for them.
Choosing the right time to communicate with your child is also important, delivering a once-off heavy lecture while they are not their best selves or talking at them when they are engrossed in their favourite game or YouTube program might not be as successful as when you are tucking them in to bed at night or even travelling in the car with them. Finding a time and space that’s comfortable and tension free is usually the best place to communicate and let them get things off their chest.
Now I must admit, that we are not the most organised family on the block, but we have a loose structure of how things work and that seems to get us through the year okay. However, by the time Term 4 hits and we are all just crossing off days to get to that Christmas break, it’s then our loose structure starts to unravel quickly, so staying on top of your household routine is essential.
While you are marking off days to get to Christmas try to mark in what you have coming up over the next two months and what you need to do as a family to get you there. Have a family meeting on Sunday evening to talk about what is happening for the week, outline any special school, sport or dancing concerts and what you need to do for everyone to feel prepared.
Get your kids to check the calendar the night before, pre pack their bags, lay out their clothes for their extra activities and complete their homework. The first thing that will slide in our house when there are so many after school functions going on at this time of year is homework. If your kids are anything like mine they will convincingly assure you that somehow homework is not as important in Term 4, so a little bit of encouragement may be needed here.
Note to self: Stay connected and on top of the endless amount of newsletters coming out of the school so you don’t miss the important things like what day school finally breaks up…oh and Christmas liturgies, special information nights for the following year, or some much needed mum nights out (worth a shot!).
I don’t know about you but somehow Term 4 for us is when school uniforms and equipment start to fall apart. Toes start poking through the bottoms of shoes, buttons go missing after their seventh attempt at being sewn back on, bag straps break and you’re down to your last tupperware container that you really don’t feel like donating to the school again – and all these things show up just as you are exiting the door for school drop off… so my best advice here is laugh it off. I know it might feel like you really want to cry, but by not sweating the small stuff you can develop within your kids resilience and a healthy sense of humour your kids humour. They will observe how you handle these situations and learn from them.
So use it as a challenge, think creatively, quickly and try to see the funny side of these things. My husband once tried to gaffer tape my son’s school shoe together and told him that’s what all the pro footballers do. Needless to say my son didn’t by it; nor did I. A note to his teachers and a pair of sneakers got us through the final days of the term and my husband has since gone on to find several more creative uses for gaffer tape.
So now we have called upon all 4 super parent powers to get us through that final leg of the never ending school year – what you’ll need now, like in any endurance race is a great set of pom poms and a super cheery war cry to get over the finish line; “you can do it”, “just keep going”, “we believe in you”, “you got this”, “if you don’t move now, I’m telling Santa on you”, whatever motivates – no judgement here. Most importantly, be their most sincere cheerleader!
Let them know how proud you are of them. Point out how far they’ve come during the year and focus on some of the highlights where you have seen growth in your child. This encourages them to want to keep achieving. Mark a special day on the calendar for an end of school year celebration where you can enjoy a special dinner or picnic and give them their own little graduation, one that celebrates their achievements at school and at home.
Then put them to bed and reach for the egg nog (or champas!) – you deserve it!