JOPLIN, Mo. —
When counselor Julia Narrell was at Memorial Middle School, she remembered a large distraction that would happen at about this time every year, like clockwork.
"The carnival would come," Narrell said. "All the kids would want to watch it. Teachers would have to draw the blinds."
That problem could be an issue for ninth- and 10th-grade students at the Memorial building this year. But every student in school will face plenty of other distracters brought about by the home stretch of school.
Now that spring break and Easter holidays have passed, this is it. No more breaks until school ends in about a month. Minds start to turn to the upcoming summer break.
"There's a heightened sense of awareness," said Narrell, now counselor at South Middle School.
"There's end of year activities such as the talent show and yearbook signing."
On the other side of the coin: Narrell said that referrals go up near the end of the school year.
This is the time of the year where parents should help their kids stay on track and finish the year strong, Narrell said.
The delaying of a key spring test will help parents and teachers do just that. The window for testing under the Missouri Assessment Program has been pushed back Ñ Joplin's testing begins during the last week of April.
When that occurs, teachers will ask parents to ensure that their children are ready for a long day of testing, Narrell said. Make sure that students get a good night's sleep and a good breakfast before school
Though MAP testing takes center stage near the end of the school year, Narrell said this is the time of year when carefully planned and executed routines start to slip.
"This is the time when kids can fall," Narrell said. "Our eighth graders have already enrolled for ninth grade, so they have something like senioritis setting in."
Parents should revisit the plans they made at the beginning of the school year and kept up through the first few quarters:
Check bedtimes. Just because the days are longer doesn't mean kids should stay up longer. Limit distracters such as Internet usage or video games to ensure that their normal sleep routines remain. Also, make sure they are well attended.
"If a kid has a tendency of walking all over town, then when the days get longer and warmer, parents won't reinforce their bedtimes," Narrell said. "They may be responsible, but they are still just kids and capable of getting into trouble."
If you've slipped, get back to morning routines, including a good breakfast.
"If they are going to eat breakfast at school, then get there in time for them to eat," Narrell said.
- Keep in constant communication about schoolwork, whether that entails checking a homework journal, emailing a teacher or looking at grade reports. This is the time where grades can surprise students and parents alike, Narrell said.
- Because the end of the school year also accompanies the beginning of storm season, parents can help students by reminding them of emergency plans and storm safety. Narrell said to review family emergency action plans.