Most adults spend January taking some important me-time, setting up some New Year's resolutions around things in their lives they’d like to change for the better. But while we’re rocking our workouts and trying harder to eat right or meditate, it’s important to remember that our kids are only halfway through the school year, and they too could benefit from a bit of a reset.
Most grade slippage happens in the third quarter of the school year, and it’s no wonder — with all those fresh holiday toys at home and summer so far away it can be hard to stay motivated and on track with schoolwork. And hectic family schedules combined with shorter daylight hours can make it tricky to find time together for important conversations. Here are three simple things parents can do to make sure your kids start the New Year off on the right foot.
1. Get them organized.
Even if your kids keep their room on the cleaner side (if this is you, please, share your parenting secrets), January is the perfect time to make sure everything else is in order for the year to come. Replace busted binders, worn out notebooks, and pencils that have lost their erasers so they’ve got the tools they need to excel in class. Ask what their biggest roadblock to staying organized is; they may need an adult to suggest a system like color coded folders. It’s also a great moment to take inventory of any appointments they need scheduled in the upcoming year. Is it time for an eye exam or tooth cleaning? To stay on top of it all, consider a family organizing app like Cozi, which will allow older kids to help track important dates in one handy (digital) place. Younger kids might like to practice with a magnetic calendar.
2. Evaluate their extracurriculars.
Being stuck inside during the long winter months is a great time to try a new hobby. Check out books like Gemma the Gymnastics Fairy (ages 7 to 9) and Tasha the Tap Dance Fairy (ages 7 to 9) to see if a new movement class would be a win. Or, see if The Way to Stay in Destiny (ages 9 to 12) sparks an interest in trying out piano or another instrument. Then, ask if there’s a free drop-in class or lesson to test the waters. If your child already has a packed afterschool schedule, use the calendar changeover as the time to have an honest talk about whether she's still finding joy in her hobbies or if it’s time to switch things up.
3. Check in on their emotional health.
Progress reports, report cards, and online school portals let us know how our kids are doing academically, but it can be harder to know how your child is doing socially and emotionally, especially if he's the shyer type. A quiet car ride is a good time for a casual conversation about who he's been spending time with in school and whether he's been experiencing any friction in his relationships. Or use an icebreaker like a bedtime book, such as Clementine: Friend of the Week (ages 7 to 10) or Friends for Life (ages 8 to 12), that’s focused on friendships to help get the chat going. If anything concerning comes up, try to help him work through it, and don’t be afraid to reach out to the teacher or a counselor for extra support.