About this time every year, students (and teachers) across the country hit what educators call the “mid-year slump”. This is the point in the academic year when the newness and fun of the school year has worn off. Students are no longer well-rested from the summer, excited for the new year, and eager to please and impress their new teachers and classmates.
The second trimester is also a time when students will see an uptick in academic difficulty and challenge as the review and revise period gives way to new, more rigorous content. Additionally, this point in the year brings colder temperatures, shorter daylight hours, and illnesses which result in missed school days.
While there will always be a natural slump in work, mood, and behavior during this time, there are things you can do to help your child get through the middle of the year and stay on track.
1. Find Ways To Exert Energy
One of the biggest reasons students start to demonstrate a decline in academics, behavior, and/or mood is children spend less time outdoors, expending their energy. Even though the temperatures have dropped and you may not be able to spend as much time outside, finding small moments, when possible, for fresh air and sunlight can make a huge difference in your child’s day. It is also important to be purposeful about scheduling movement breaks throughout the days when it’s easier to stay snuggled up inside.
Additionally, if you live in a colder climate where outdoor activities are limited, finding ways to move and groove indoors in places like trampoline parks, skating rinks, rock climbing facilities, dance classes, martial arts lessons, etc., can offer much needed opportunities for your child to get out their energy.
2. Get Organized
This time of year is also the perfect moment to get re-organized, set some new goals, and reassess current structures. Creating new schedules and calendars, decluttering homework spaces, and assessing what systems and structures have and have not been working is a great start. For more information on ways to get organized at home, check out this blog post.
3. Try Something New
One of the reasons students start to struggle during this time is the initial excitement of a new school year, new teachers, and new classmates has worn off. Finding new and creative things to add into your child’s week can breathe fresh life into their day to day and offer some motivation and excitement. Finding new peers for playdates, trying a new class or skill, or even scheduling trips to museums, parks, etc. can bring a much needed spark back into your child’s life.
4. Chat with Your Child’s Teachers
Most school calendars include conferences during this time in the school year. In fact, this grading and conference period can be when many parents first realize the slump has occurred. If the school isn’t holding a parent-teacher conference during this time, and you are concerned about changes in your child’s behavior or academic performance, you should consider reaching out to your child’s teacher(s) to set something up. Coming up with a joint plan for home and school can help your child get back on track sooner.
5. Consider Incentives
In a perfect world, we would want our children to only need intrinsic motivation to succeed and do well. Unfortunately, for most children, that’s just not going to be the case. In the middle of the year especially, when that initial intrinsic motivation has worn off, you might have to get creative in incentivizing and rewarding your child through this more challenging time.
6. Rethink Additional Help
If after trying different ways of getting organized, exerting energy, working with your child’s teacher, etc., you still see that your child is struggling, you might consider if additional support and help is the answer. The middle of the year is a great time to add in some extra services to help your child regroup and succeed throughout the rest of the year. This is also a good time to consider, with the help of your child’s school, if testing might be beneficial.
If you are curious about what extra help and services might look like for your child and how they can help, contact us today for a free consultation.