Another school year is wrapping up. As kids are preparing for final exams and teachers are finalizing grades for the year, stress is high. Perhaps more than previous years, tension is high between you and your kids about grades. Mom: “Really, a 35 in math class? How is that even possible, Joey?” Joey: “Mom, you don’t understand. I have no motivation this year, and having to find everything online is so annoying.” Found familiar?
If you and your children are feeling anxious about the school year coming to a close and what it means for your child’s academic future, you are not alone. Students, parents, teachers, and administrators have had to make major adjustments since the COVID-19 pandemic to allow for the continuance of education. It has not been easy for anyone. If you notice your child is experiencing heightened stress or if there is tension between you and your children about academics, keep in mind a few things:
Acknowledge the transitions and adaptations your child has made this school year. Since last March, your child may have gone from in-person to at-home schooling two, three, or more times. Consistency is important for maintaining motivation and follow-through, so all the changes this year make it difficult to stay organized and goal-oriented.
Avoid blaming the entire situation on your children, their teachers, or yourself. Of course, we should encourage kids to take responsibility for what is in their control, but we should also take the time and care to offer guidance and acceptance. The past year was full of events and new regulations and norms that no one could have predicted. Some of the consequences are simply out of our control. Everyone deserves some grace here.
Instead of catastrophizing the current situation, plan for a more successful year ahead. If you tell your eighth grade daughter she has ruined her chances of taking honors classes in high school and thus ruined her shot at a college scholarship, both your and her anxiety will increase, and her performance will likely decrease. Engage in a conversation with her— ask her about the challenges she faced this year and what she needs to manage them more effectively. Now more than ever, she needs to feel hopeful about her future.
The end of this school year will mark a very important destination for you and your children: all of you have survived a year full of stress and uncertainty. The outcome may not be pretty. There may be missed opportunity, failing grades, and deep emotional scars. Returning to a new sense of normalcy will take time. Healing takes time, but let this past year be a constant reminder that you can get through the hard times of life. Remind your children they are capable of withstanding the storm and that there are brighter days ahead.