If you want tips on how to deal with high school seniors being a tad lazy during senior year here is how parents and teachers team up to combat senior itis. 

As an 18-year veteran high school English teacher, I have a love/hate relationship with Spring Break.

I blame this on the fact that I taught freshmen and seniors. If the school calendar is a clock, then Spring Break is 11:45 p.m.

I curse the creators of the school calendar who schedule an early Spring Break, thus leaving many tortuous days between Spring Break and the end of the school year.

Non-teachers may not be aware of this, but to kids, the first minute of Spring Break signals the finish line.

parents and teachers team up to combat senior itis

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They are done, checked out. Freshmen devour this time and will do whatever is asked of them, as they know the end of the school year relieves the stress they have endured up to that point.

Seniors, by contrast, forget they have a pulse.

Teachers are veterans on the front lines in the long-fought battle against “senior-itis.” In many cases, our only ally is out students’ parents, the only people who want students to graduate even more than the teachers do.

Over the years, I have noticed some parent behaviors that help students keep acute “senior-it is” at bay and here is how parents and teachers team up to combat senior itis:

  • Don’t let good habits slip. The last thing a student needs the last semester of high school is to “un-prepare” for college.
  • Parents who consistently hold students accountable to the good habits that brought them to the finish line (no going out on school nights, getting ahead of homework on the weekends, getting enough sleep, etc.) sets students up for success and does not let negative habits form.
  • Keep future goals in sight. Whether the next step is college, junior college, full-time work, the military or something else, make sure you help your child see how critical it is to finish the end of the school year strong. Instill a “leave it all on the court” mentality of completely finishing this current milestone and communicate how that will help to prepare them for what lies ahead.
  • Encourage your child to stay connected to all school resources while they are still available and free. Staying connected to the school helps your child to stay invested.  Does your child need help from the school counseling department for job searches or last-minute scholarship opportunities? Are there teachers with whom your child had a strong relationship that he/she might want to ask for a letter of recommendation? Does your child simply want to work out at the school gym or use the resource center (formerly known as the library)?
  • Praise behaviors that combat “senior-itis.” If you catch your child staying up late to finish an assignment, let them know you admire their tenacity. Connect that positive behavior to how it will serve them well at their next stage in life. Let your child know how proud you are of the way they are finishing off the year as he/she leaves for school early in the morning (as opposed to sleeping through first hour).
  • Constantly connect present behavior to their future purpose. Dialing into senior year learning will help kids regardless of what their next step is. Help them to see a connection between learning>achievement>completing goals.

As Angela Duckworth’s* research on “grit” tells us, growth and long-term benefit is the result of powering through challenges.

One of the most challenging experiences many teens have in their young lives is combatting the ever-infectious “senior-it is,” but by helping your students look at this as an opportunity to prepare for their next phase in life, you will be doing them a tremendous favor.

The great news is how parents and teachers team up to combat senior itis.

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Dr. Pamela Roggeman is an academic dean with The University of Phoenix College of Education

She is a proven academic leader familiar with and passionate about technology in progressive education and has extensive experience designing curriculum and preparing teachers in a university setting.

Roggeman currently serves as the Academic Dean for the College of Education at University of Phoenix. Roggeman currently serves on the National Advisory Board for Spark 101, a member of the 114th Partnership focusing on STEM education and the ETS NOTE Educator Prep Advisory Council.

Previously she worked as a program coordinator and clinical instructor and led secondary education programs for the graduate and the undergraduate colleges at Arizona State University.

Roggeman also served more than 17 years as a secondary education teacher and was named an Arizona Educational Foundation Teacher of the Year Ambassador of Excellence.

She earned both her Bachelor of Arts in Education and Master of Arts in Education Psychology from The University of Arizona. Dr. Roggeman achieved her Education Doctorate in Education Leadership and Innovation from Arizona State University.

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