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The holidays are a time filled with favorite traditions — special meals, giving gifts, family gatherings, and more. Unfortunately, teachers will tell you that another holiday tradition is a general decline in students’ grades between Thanksgiving and January. It’s hard for students to stay focused on school and maintain good study habits when they are excited about parties and pulled from their regular routines to travel, shop, and celebrate.

Many teachers try to wrap up units in December before the break, which means your child will have big projects or tests (summative assessments) coming up in the next few days. Whether your child is excelling or struggling, now is not the time to ease up on the gas. It’s full speed ahead to winter break and before too long, the grading period and first semester will end in just a few short weeks! If kids are losing focus now, they’ll have little time to rebound in the new year before the term ends. For that reason, it’s especially important that parents stay on top of school matters and support their children’s academics during the holiday season.

Here are three ways to help your child stay focused this holiday season:

Keep and Eye on the Calendar

Keep a calendar with important school dates, and review the calendar regularly with your child. This helps prevent school deadlines from getting lost in the shuffle of holiday music concerts, family parties, and shopping extravaganzas. Posting the calendar on the refrigerator and looking it over every couple of days will help you and your child stay abreast of school happenings.

Respect Your Child’s School Schedule

Avoid pulling your child from class unnecessarily or abandon regular bedtimes. Of course there will be times when it’s necessary, but parents need to ask themselves — is getting a few hours’ jump on holiday traffic worth my child missing the big math test review?  Is staying up late for this family party going to make my child a zombie at school tomorrow? Parents often use the holidays as an excuse to drop the routines and structures that help students succeed, and then they are puzzled when their child’s grades dip. Be sure that you’re not sending contradictory messages about the importance of school during the holidays.

Holiday Treats as Incentives

This is a fun time of year! Parents can use holiday traditions and treats as rewards for their children after they tackle their schoolwork. Break up a night of homework with a quick round of peppermint hot chocolates, or celebrate a finished school project with a trip to see holiday lights. Talk to your child about the importance of balancing family fun with school so it doesn’t all feel like drudgery. 

As always, if your child continues to struggle, give us a call. We love to talk to families about strategies to help kids get on track academically. From the Tutor A Team family, enjoy the holiday season!