The school year is winding down, and for many high schoolers, that means fun activities and important academic tasks are on the horizon.
End-of-course testing kicks off for her students at the end of April, followed by ACT and SAT college entrance exams and Advanced Placement tests. Then, students take final exams before the last day of school. But in the midst of these scholarly activities, there’s prom and other celebratory events.
Managing it all can be a challenge. Parents and teachers can pass them the following tips – and keep a few for themselves – to ensure students do well academically and make memories in the process.
1. Plan ahead: “If you really want to make the most out of your high school experience, you have to plan ahead,” says Whittington. She tells students not to procrastinate, either.
Twitter users shared similar advice with U.S. News.
@alipannoni Get academic obligations finished early and be proactive about senioritis. If you finish everything ahead of time, you can relax and enjoy.
— Meagan Shokar (@Ms_Shokar) May 18, 2017
2. Keep teachers in the loop: A lot of teachers will offer flexibility, but students need to speak up politely and let their teachers know about what’s on their plate, says Laura Bitler, a science teacher at Daniel Boone High School and finalist for Pennsylvania’s 2018 Teacher of the Year.
Some of Bitler’s ninth-graders were gearing up for their first Advanced Placement exam earlier this month. The students had an ecology assignment for Bitler’s class due on the same day as the AP exam in another course. They discussed their concerns with Bitler and she offered them an extension on the due date of her assignment and told them to focus on the test.
But while parents and teachers should be understanding, they shouldn’t enable or let teens take advantage, Bitler says. Students need to learn how to schedule and plan.
Teachers could help students “celebrate the craziness” by hosting a cram session for exams with junk food, Whittington says.
3. Don’t be afraid to say no to events: It may be hard for teens to skip an event if they feel there is too much going on, but teens may need to compromise and pick and choose events or only go for an hour, Whittington says.
Students aren’t going to benefit from over-committing themselves or procrastinating in college, so creating good habits now is important, Whittington says.
Bitler says her students put a lot of pressure on themselves when they take AP exams, so she tells them she’ll do the worrying and they should focus on the test. Students feeling overwhelmed should reach out to their parents and talk about it, she says.
A criminal justice teacher at Whittington’s school recently held a lesson on community policing and random acts of kindness. The students placed sticky notes with encouraging phrases on treats and gave them to others in the school – she received one.
“It just really touched my heart,” Whittington says, and is something others could do as well. Parents could put a note besides a student’s breakfast or under their car windshield wiper.
4. Have fun: Teens shouldn’t get so caught up in getting things done that they lose focus on the here and now, like making memories and enjoying time with their friends, Bitler says.
While students shouldn’t burn the candle at both ends, they luckily have a couple of months to recover, Whittington says.
“Enjoy it and finish strong,” she says. “Do the best that you can so that you know that you’re proud of yourself.”