Staying Focused

By: Neil Mufson
Even though once spring break comes and goes it’s natural to think we’re headed into the homestretch for this school year, there are still several weeks of important work ahead. Thus, I always think it’s a good idea to spend some time with your child reviewing, refining, or creating some significant goals for the remainder of the year.

Think about your child’s pattern during past school years. If your child’s performance tends to “fade” as the year wears on, set some specific, written goals together that, when monitored regularly, might counteract this tendency. For example, “Use a timer when doing math homework to make sure I’m using my full homework time and not rushing,” might be appropriate for the student who gets careless and hurries through his or her work in order to get outside sooner when the weather turns nice. If a busy lacrosse season is ahead, goals related to previewing and setting one’s homework/study schedule might make sense.

If your child tends to be consistent throughout the year, consider setting a goal that will take him or her further in an area that is already strong. For instance, a goal as simple as “Make sure I read independently for 30 minutes a day” will strengthen a student’s overall academic performance and mental agility. Over time, it will also help improve standardized test scores — from the ERBs and SSATs to the SATs — since the verbal sections are so readily influenced by a regular reading habit.

Reviewing together your child’s last report card or set of comments can also be helpful in establishing meaningful goals at this time of year. Shoot for setting 3 to 5 specific, written goals, and be sure to review them at least every couple of weeks to ensure that focus is being maintained.

Ending the year on a positive, mindful, upbeat note is important not just to make the most of the educational opportunities your child has this year. It also helps in getting next year off to a favorable and purposeful start.

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