Countdown to Summer: How to Make the Most of the End of the Semester

“Just a few more weeks to go!”

We hear this common rallying cry from educators, students, and parents alike every May and June—and this year is certainly no exception.

A challenging year of pandemic learning has many families feeling desperate for time to relax and recharge.

But the school year isn’t over yet!

If your student is struggling to power through these last few weeks of school, they’re not alone. But here’s what they can do to make the most of what’s left, thrive this summer, and prepare for next school year.

How to Make the Most of the Last Few Weeks of School

Stay focused and finish strong.

It’s hard for students to stay motivated at the end of a long school year. But these last few weeks are critical, and there’s still plenty of work to be done.

If your student has graded assignments to complete, it’s especially important for them to stay on track. Finishing the academic year on a high note will help set them up for continued success.

Encourage your student to practice basic time management skills to focus on what matters, reduce stress, and be more productive as we count down to the end of the semester:

  • Set realistic short-term goals, like scoring a desired grade on a final exam or completing homework every day before dinner
  • Keep a written record of remaining assignments (paper or digital formats both work) so nothing falls off the radar
  • Take frequent breaks to relax and turn their brains off
Reflect on the academic year.

Setting aside time to reflect on this last year is a great way for your student to make the most of these final weeks.

This practice will help keep them focused on the academic year, while encouraging them to plan for what’s next. We recommend performing a self-assessment so they can analyze what they’ve achieved and what they still need to do. Here’s how to do it:

  • Choose a time to sit down and have an honest conversation about where they are
  • Gather supporting documents like grade reports, assignments, and teacher comments
  • Think back on how they imagined the year would go
  • Lead with strengths by determining what they have accomplished, where they have shown improvement, and where they met or exceeded expectations
  • Identify weaknesses, such as difficult subjects and unmet goals
  • Get to the bottom of shortfalls, exploring and discussing the why behind the weaknesses
  • Return to the positive, finding a specific accomplishment that reminds them of what they achieved this year
  • Create an action plan to figure out how to get where they need to be
Plan for a fulfilling summer.

We believe summer should, first and foremost, be a break or a change of pace—a time to recharge and rejuvenate.

But recharging and rejuvenating doesn’t mean long days of endless scrolling on social media. Doing nothing is a component of recharging (and social media technically doesn’t count as truly doing nothing!), but so is engaging with with people or activities that pique your student’s interest.

Here are four strategies your student might use when considering summer activities:

  • Develop existing skills and interests via opportunities that offer real-world experience in a particular area of interest
  • Gain workplace experience by taking on an internship or summer job to expand their horizons and introduce them to the reality of life after school
  • Enroll in a summer program at a college or university
  • Volunteer for a good cause, which is an amazing way to help the community and also to begin expanding your student’s horizons
Prepare for the next academic year.

The results of your student’s self-reflection should inform how they prepare for next school year. As their parent, we encourage you to do a bit of reflection on this past year yourself. Start with two simple questions:

—What went well?

—What didn’t?

For the things that are going well, take steps to ensure that your student keeps up those habits or maintains those circumstances. For the things that didn’t, ask yourself what you could change to improve them.

It’s tempting to chalk these difficulties up to the pandemic. And in many cases, students’ issues were exacerbated by virtual learning, inadequate workspaces, and the cumulative stress we’re all feeling. But more often than not, the pandemic has accelerated or brought forward issues that were already there.

For example, “school at home” may have highlighted your child’s difficulty with managing their schedule. But that challenge will resurface as soon as they step on a college campus, where time management is a critical skill.

If your student struggled in school this past year, they may benefit from academic coaching to get them back on track for next fall. Signet’s academic coaches help students reduce stress and strengthen the key pillars that lead to academic success.

Picture of Sheila A.

Sheila A.

Sheila Akbar is President & COO of Signet Education. She holds a bachelor's degree and master's degree from Harvard University and two doctoral degrees from Indiana University. She joined the team in the summer of 2010, bringing with her a wealth of experience teaching SAT, ACT, GRE, literature, and composition in both one-on-one and classroom settings.

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