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Making the most (academically) of Winter break
  • Calendar Dec 20, 2019
  • User Jared Wells
  • Category In Uncategorized
  • Comments 0 Comments

With Winter break coming up, students are hopefully going to get some well-earned rest. But that doesn’t mean that there are not things that students can (and should!) be doing over winter break to get a jump start on the new year.

During the school year, it can sometimes feel like things are out of control for students. That they are reacting to crisis after crisis. Winter break can be a time of relative calm to take stock of classes, and plan/take measured actions away from the day to day craziness of the school year. Here are some ideas as to what students can do to make the most of their time off of school.

Talk with teachers.

Your son or daughter should be meeting with their teachers regularly. Even in a class that is going well, meeting with the teacher one-on-one during lunch or afterschool once a month or so can help teachers put a name/personality to a face and can yield important information about what is coming up in the class. Before break is a great time to meet with teachers, but particularly with teachers of the classes the student is struggling in. Students should ask their teachers some variant of the following question: “I want to improve my grade in this class. What can I do/focus on over break to help raise my grade?” Students can lots of helpful information, like

-when the next test is going to be and what it is going to cover

-study tips (not just what to study but how to)

-extra credit opportunities (maybe)

-feedback about what you aren’t doing well in the class 

-opportunity to turn in late assignments

Even if the student doesn’t get fantastic information, facetime with the teacher at least communicates that the student cares about the class and is trying to improve. 

If your break has already started, send your teacher an email.

Create a plan/set goals

All that said, don’t wait to hear back from your teacher to start planning!

Yes, I’m big on planning. What gets written gets done. Two or three weeks is a lot of time to be able to get caught up and ahead. But it won’t happen unless the student has a concrete day to day plan for, at minimum, how much time they want to spend studying. Even just a couple hours of studying every day can make a world of difference over the course of two weeks (and won’t prevent a student from enjoying their break!)

The student should ask two questions about each class:

-What is my goal for this class?

-What can I do over the next two weeks to accomplish that goal?

It’s crucial, though, that the student set goals for their preparation that are unconnected to just time spent studying. Goals could include:

  1. Taking a practice exam for each math chapter for review
  2. Complete overdue assignments in English
  3. Come in to Wells Academics for an SAT diagnostic exam
  4. Read 80 pages in English book per day.
  5. Take notes on each history chapter we’ve covered this year for review.
  6. Spend an hour every day studying for upcoming SAT/ACT

The more specific the goals are, the more usefully the time will be spent. Have the student think about what they can do to make sure the last few weeks of the semester are successful for each of their classes. But make sure that the goals can be accomplished in two weeks and in an amount of daily time that the student is comfortable committing.

Be realistic (but don't procrastinate!)

On one hand, I get it. It’s break! And students have been working hard and deserve some time off. That’s why goals should be able to be accomplished in a time that the student should feel comfortable with, and that a student can still feel like they are getting some rest and time off. That amount of time will be different for each student. Like I said earlier, a lot can be accomplished in a couple hours per day (especially in a day in which 8 hours has not already been spent in school). Making lots of progress in that two hours can lead to momentum that they just can’t get during the school year with all the time commitments they have.

On the other hand, taking a complete break from studying doesn’t just mean missing an opportunity to catch up/get ahead. It also means regression. It means having to spend a few days waking up from “vacation brain”. Spending a couple hours a day on study can help keep students in fighting shape so they don’t lose their edge going into the new year (and for many students who have finals in January, there is really no time for shaking off vacation brain.)

It’s important to not procrastinate. It’s easy for the days slip by and sadly look back at the missed opportunity. Spending a little time each day can help a student who feels out of control right now start the new year feeling confident, in control, and on the path to success.

If you are looking for some support this winter break in getting caught up or getting ahead, give us a call at 858.551.2650 or email help@wellsacademics.com!

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