As an 18-year veteran high school English teacher, I have a love/hate relationship with spring break. I blame this on the fact that I taught freshmen and seniors. If the school calendar is a clock, then spring break is 11:45 pm.
I curse the creators of the school calendar who schedule an early spring break, thus leaving many tortuous days between this break and the end of the school year. Non-teachers may not be aware of this, but to students, the first minute of spring break signals the finish line. They are done, checked out. Freshmen devour this time and will do whatever is asked of them, as they know the end of the school year relieves the stress they have endured up to that point. Seniors, by contrast, forget they have a pulse.
Teachers are veterans on the front lines in the long-fought battle against “senioritis.” In many cases, our only ally is our students’ parents, the only people who want students to graduate even more than the teachers do. Over the years, I have noticed some parent behaviors that help their students keep acute senioritis at bay.=
Don’t let good habits slip
The last thing a student should do the last semester of high school is “unprepare” for college. Parents who consistently hold students accountable to the good habits that brought them to the finish line (no going out on school nights, getting ahead of homework on the weekends, getting enough sleep, etc.) set students up for success and don’t let negative habits form.
Keep future goals in sight
Whether the next step is college, junior college, full-time work, the military, or something else, make sure you help your child see how critical it is to finish the end of the school year strong. Instill a “leave it all on the court” mentality of completely finishing this current milestone and communicate how it will help prepare them for what lies ahead.
Encourage your child to stay connected to their high school
Staying connected to the school helps your child stay invested. Do they need help from the school counseling department for job searches or last-minute scholarship opportunities? Are there teachers with whom your child had a strong relationship that they might want to ask for a letter of recommendation? Does your child simply want to work out at the school gym or use the resource center (formerly known as the library)? Show your support so they take advantage of these resources while they’re still available and free.
Praise behaviors that combat senioritis
If you catch your child staying up late to finish an assignment, let them know you admire their tenacity. Connect that positive behavior to how it will serve them well in their next stage in life. Let your student know how proud you are of the way they’re finishing off the year as they leave for school early in the morning (as opposed to sleeping through the first hour).
Constantly connect present behavior to their future purpose
Dialing into senior year learning will help students regardless of what their next step is. Help them see a connection between learning à achievement à completing goals.
As Angela Duckworth’s research on “grit” tells us, growth and long-term benefit are the result of powering through challenges. One of the most challenging experiences many teens have in their young lives is combatting the ever-infectious “senioritis,” but by helping your students look at this as an opportunity to prepare for their next phase in life, you’ll be doing them a tremendous favor.
Find more helpful advice as your students prepare for college in our Parents section.