Cooling the burn of spring fever

We can all recall looking out a classroom window and longing to be “out there” vs. “in here.” It’s inevitable that warmer weather and longer days bring spring fever. Yet the last weeks of the school year remain important. How to help daydreaming kids deal with the squirmies?

Leanna Landsmann, writing recently for UExpress, in an article titled, “How to Help Your Kids Overcome Spring Fever,” responded to a question from a parent, who began with, “Since spring break, my fourth-grade son seems to have ‘checked out.’” Teachers were reporting he was paying less attention and not finishing assignments.

Acknowledging the frequency of these behaviors, Landsmann quotes Virginia educator Ann Dolin, in a blog post from ectutoring.com, who says,"With the warm spring weather arriving, daylight savings time in effect and only a few months of school remaining, it's not uncommon for kids to lose motivation." Some of Dolin’s tips include re-establishing old routines, re-setting study times, monitoring (but not doing!) kids’ assignments, and helping them schedule long-range assignments, either penciling in due dates on a calendar and/or setting alerts on smartphones.

One of the specific things Dolin recommends is to “Set up a routine for a block of time, say 8 p.m. to 8:45 p.m., where social media is turned off and everyone in the family is device-free."

Yes, April, May, and June bring the unspoken but visible classroom version of the car travel lament, “Are we there yet?” On a website called Understood, devoted to “understanding distractability/inattention,” Melissa A. Kay offers “7 Ways to Help Kids with Focus Issues Battle Spring Fever.” Though geared toward kids already struggling with paying attention, the tips can also be valuable for kids not typically prone to distractability.  

Like Dolin, one thing Kay emphasizes is the importance of routines, sharing that “In springtime, nature’s schedule changes. But just because it’s light outside later in the day doesn’t mean your family schedule should change. It’s important to stick to a regular routine—especially for kids who have trouble focusing.” This remains true even when kids push buttons. She adds, “Your child may want to stay up a lot later, or go back out to play after dinner, for instance. Resist the temptation to stray from your usual routine.”

Another important way to channel spring fever is to encourage exercise. Kay notes that “There’s a built-in benefit to warmer weather: It lets kids blow off steam and burn more energy outdoors. Studies show that exercise can actually help kids focus. So encourage your child to go for a run, ride a bike or play outdoor games like tag. Have him sign up for a sport.” With many schools cutting back on recess and gym classes, getting kid moving becomes even more important. She also suggests that letting kids do homework outside might be both an incentive and an acceptable deviation from routine.

Reinforce with kids that right up until the last day of school everything “counts.” Summing up the season, Kay observes that “For many kids, school seems less important in springtime.” She adds, “After all, which would you rather do if you were a kid? Math worksheets or sidewalk art?” but she advises parents to “Keep reminding your child that even though it’s nice out, school is still in session and he needs to make it a priority.”