Summer is Calling: How to Keep Students Focused in the Days Before Summer Vacation

Boy daydreaming in schoolThe days are getting longer, the air is warm, the sky is full of sunshine, and your students have one thing on their minds — summer vacation! In the weeks preceding summer break, you may find your students are more likely to stare out the window and daydream than focus on your instruction. Follow these tips to keep students engaged in the classroom in the final weeks or days before summer break.

Give Students Time Outdoors.

It may seem like taking students outdoors on a sunny day is counterproductive to keeping them focused in the classroom, yet studies show that children are re-energized by fresh air, light, and movement. Students will appreciate dedicated time to enjoy the warm weather and will be more likely to work hard to earn their free time on future school days.

Review Exam Material Using Creative Formats.

Depending on the grade level you teach, a portion of your end-of-the-year curriculum may need to be spent preparing for final exams. Rather than reviewing a year’s worth of material using a lecture-only format, make your reviews fun and engaging by turning them into games. Consider a Jeopardy-style format where students have the opportunity to win prizes for correct answers. Quizlet is another terrific resource for students to review the year’s material.

Keep Their Hands Busy.

On days when students struggle to remain calm and focused, give them a tool to occupy their fidgety minds and bodies. For example, give students each a small amount of Play-Doh to manipulate in their hands during reading time or lectures. This little, morphable toy may be just the trick to help them keep their hands to themselves and their chatting to a minimum.

Stick to a Routine.

In the last few days before the end of the school year, you may have completed the majority of your required curriculum. Without structured class formats, however, students may get the impression they can chat with their neighbor during lectures or that they do not need to complete assignments. As best you can, keep to your daily schedule, and regular activities, regardless of whether or not you have required curriculum left. Already completed your math curriculum for the year? Play a fun math-related game instead. Or give students a sneak peek at next year’s curriculum. No more group reading assignments? Give the students time to read a book of their choice, silently. By sticking to a routine, students will understand that it is not summer break—yet.

Create Cross-Discipline Projects.

Give students an opportunity to apply the skills from one subject area to another by creating group project opportunities that ask them to apply cross-discipline skills. For example, an English assignment that incorporates art, or a project that combines what they have learned in both math and science.

Bring in a Guest Speaker.

If time allows, bring in a guest speaker with an interesting story to tell as a special treat. Depending on the age of your students, the speaker may be a local celebrity, a parent with a unique career, a high school athlete with a story to tell about leadership, or even a teacher the students will have next year who will excite them about the year ahead.

Keep Calm and Carry On.

The final days of class before summer vacation may post a challenge to your students’ focus, and you may even find yourself longing for a break in the sunshine too. No matter how your students react to the knowledge that they are days (or hours) away from summer vacation, do your best to keep your cool. Together, you can all enjoy your last few days together and start your summer off on the right foot.

Do you have any helpful tips for teachers to keep students focused and engaged in the days leading up to break? Share them below!

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