This is How We

This Is How We Prepare for Finals

we.jpg

It is hard to believe that May is already here. The end of the year brings mixed emotions and a long to-do list, with one of the most crucial tasks being: study for finals. This month we are talking with parents to find out how they help their high school students stay organized and prepared for these exams.

Meet Tom.

Tom is the dad of two high school students. His son is a junior and his daughter is a freshman.

What’s the vibe like around your home this month? How do your kids feels about final exams?

Everyone is definitely getting excited about summer, but May is pretty busy around here. My son doesn’t really stress out much about finals. It is still newer for my daughter, so I think she makes a big deal about. She also likes staying organized, so she is on top of all her studies.

What study strategies work for your children?

My son definitely likes to study alone, and he uses the study guides and his classroom notes. He is a good student, so I don’t worry too much about his preparation. In the past, some of his teachers have hosted review sessions after school, and he finds those to be helpful.

Like I mentioned earlier, my daughter is especially organized and plans out what she’ll study in advance. She uses notes card, study guides, practice tests, whatever she can get her hands on. She likes to study with people, and her tutor is really helpful to review with. I think it is beneficial for her to talk through the material.

Do you help your children prepare for finals?

I mostly leave it up to them to study, but we talk about what different teachers are expecting and what review guides they’ve been given. I ask them about their study plans and how they feel about each exam. I don’t want to make them any more anxious so I stay pretty relaxed about it all. I focus on how hard they’ve worked all year and not put too much emphasis on one test.

Meet Julia.

Julia is mom of three boys - a 7th grader, a freshman, and a senior.

What’s the vibe like around your home this month? How do your kids feels about final exams?

May has an exciting vibe because summer is just around the corner. My boys are involved in baseball and track, so we stay extra busy with all that. Finals can cause stress in our home because I can tell they are feeling done with school, especially with the nice weather. I have noticed that the homework assignments die down, so they do have more time that should be used for preparing for exams. (But I don’t think that happens as it should.)

What study strategies work for your children?

One of my boys is more independent when it comes to studying. He uses study guides, his classroom notes, and practice tests. My other son has a harder time organizing his time and starting early. They will both cram right up to the last minute.

Do you help your children prepare for finals?

I always offer to help quiz them or go over anything. Sometimes they take me up on this, and other times it is easier to study on their own. I do my best to create quiet time and space to study with phones and TV off. I also make sure they get to bed early and have a good breakfast the morning of exams.

Thank you, Tom and Julia. Best of luck to all our students as they prepare for finals and finish off another great school year!



Written by Joy Becker, Mentoring Coordinator and Author of 44 & Oxford

This Is How We Finish Strong

The end is in sight. It’s been a great year, and our students have so much to be proud of. It is not uncommon for students to hit a slump this time of year and lose motivation. This week we are asking our families just two simple questions to gain some insight about how to finish strong.

Meet Jessica.

Jessica is the mother of three children - a girl (15) and two boys (13, 10). She says she definietly sees a decrease in drive and work ethic this time of year, but extra communication and organization is the key to keeping her busy family motivated.

Do you notice your children struggling to stay motivated this time of year?

Definitely! I can tell they are getting tired of school and especially as the weather turns nicer, we all just want to be outside. Spring sports have also started, so this takes up a lot of time on our nights and weekends. In order to stay on top of school work, I feel like we need to be extra organized. And if I’m being completely honest, I’m kind of over it all too.

What do you do at home to help them finish strong?

I stay positive. I remind them of all the hard work they’ve done so far, and celebrate that summer is near. Like I said, with soccer and baseball starting up, our schedule is extra busy. We always go over our calendar before the week starts, and this includes talking about tests or school projects. Sometimes we even add “Homework Time” into our daily schedule, so we all know when the work is getting done. My younger son does better to get everything done as soon as he gets home, but my daughter is a night owl and can be more productive after she gets home from late practice. We work together to find what works for each of them .

Meet Vanessa.

Vanessa is the mother of two boys, ages 10 and 7. As soon as the nice weather hits, she uses it to advantage!

Do you notice your children struggling to stay motivated this time of year?

I notice it more with my older son, especially around the time of state assessments when he starts complaining more than usual about school. My seven-year-old is in first grade and really loves it, so I haven’t noticed him struggling to stay motivated. He also doesn’t have all that much homework.

What do you do at home to help them finish strong?

We love being outside, and as soon as the weather gets warmer, I get them outside to run off energy. In the colder months, we usually try to complete school work as soon as I get home. But when spring comes, we change that, and I first send them out to shoot baskets or ride bikes. I think the fresh air and exercise helps them when it’s time to come in and work.

Thank you, Jessica and Vanessa! It’s great to hear how commuication, scheduled homework time, and getting outside can help your families!

Check out our other This Is How We posts:

This Is How We Start the New Year

This Is How We Do Morning Routine

This Is How We Do Parent-Teacher Conference

Written by Joy Becker, Mentoring Coordinator and Author of 44 & Oxford

This is How We Do Parent-Teacher Conferences

For many schools, another round of parent-teacher conferences is just around the corner. This face-to-face meeting with your child’s teacher is a valuable time to find out what happens during the school day and how you can best support both your child and the teacher.

This week we are hearing from both a parent and a teacher as they prepare for spring conferences. Hopefully their insights can help you maximize your time with the teacher.

Meet Kristy.

Kristy has thirteen years of experience as a middle school math teacher. She has sat across the table from many parents and is thankful when parents make it a priority to come to conferences.

“When parents stay in communication with a teacher, it shows the child that we are all on the same team, working together to make school the best place possible for that child.”

Why are conferences important?

There is only so much I can communicate through newsletters, memos, emails, and report cards. Sitting down with parents gives me a chance to go into more depth about their child’s school experience. I also like being able to ask them more questions and hear what questions or concerns they have. I have worked in schools where conferences, particularly spring conferences, are optional and only for students who might be struggling. I didn’t like that idea. I think parents should grab any face-to-face time they can with a teacher, and I like to have face-to-face time with them, too. It’s helpful for me to know things like what your child says about school and how he/she handles homework.

What should parents do to prepare?

Be on time and respect your time slot. Teachers are trying to squeeze in a lot of conferences, and when parents are late or keep talking long past the conference time, it can affect a lot of people. I also tell parents to have a few questions ready to go, and it helps to write them down so you don’t forget. Bring in report cards and progress reports, especially if you have a specific question.

What questions should parents ask?

Be sure to find out about your child’s strengths and challenges academically but also with social-emotional skills. Going over grades is obvious, so be sure to speak up and ask questions like:

  • How is my child getting along with others?

  • Does he/she help other students?

  • How does he/she handle frustrations and disappointments in class?

  • Does he/she ask for help?

Also, don’t be afraid to ask if a teacher says something you don’t understand. It is easy for teacher jargon to slip it, so ask for clarification when necessary.

Meet Colleen.

Colleen is a mom of two girls, ages 9 and 12. She plans to attend both her daughters’ parent-teacher conferences next week. In fact, her 9 year old will be present during the conferences and even taking the lead.

Why are conferences important?

Overall, I feel like l have a good handle of how my girls are doing academically in school, but I still think it is important to meet with their teachers to hear about other things like peer relationships, work ethic, and just to gain insight into other strengths and weaknesses that come through in the school setting. My children spend nearly every day with their teachers; I want to know them and be sure they know I care about what happens at school.

What do you do to prepare?

I usually jot down a few questions ahead of time so I don’t have to think on the spot. I will also ask my daughters what they think their teachers will tell me, and when we get home, my husband and I will sit down with the girls and go over all we talked about at the conference. We want the girls to know we support their teachers.

What questions do you ask?

I don’t usually have as many questions about grades. Most of my questions are about behavior and friendships. Are they participating in class? Are they being overly exclusive with certain friends? I also ask what we can do at home to help.

Tell us more about how your daughter will be leading her own conference.

The fourth and fifth graders at her school not only come to conferences, but prepare in advance to talk about their strengths and challenges. She has already completed some notes she’ll be sharing with us. I love this idea! It really teaches her to reflect and think about goals.

Thank you, Kristy and Colleen.

Check out our other This Is How We posts:

This Is How We Start the New Year

This Is How We Do Morning Routine

Written by Joy Becker, Mentoring Coordinator and Author of 44 & Oxford

This Is How We Do The Morning Routine

This Is How We Do The Morning Routine

Welcome to the second post in our new This Is How We ______  series. Each month we are talking to families around Cincinnati to find out how routines, celebrations, and responsibilities play out in their homes. This month we are talking about morning routines.

This Is How We Start The New Year!

This Is How We Start The New Year!

This Is How We Start The New Year is the first in a new series of blogs posted at the beginning of each month where we talk to families all around Cincinnati to find out how routines, celebrations, and responsibilities play out in their homes. In this monthly series, we will discuss morning routines, homework, summer reading, college visits, and more! This month, we share two families traditions for starting the new year.