Friday, January 18, 2013

Finals Week - Study Break Ideas

I have two sons. One is in college on semester break and he took his finals before the break. My other son is in high school and is taking final exams next week, two weeks after winter break. I don't understand why some high schools, like his, have students take exams after the winter break. It seems to me to make so much more sense to have the students take their exams before the winter break. I know the administration can figure out how to make this happen by adjusting the semester and vacation schedules and still get in the 180 days of required instruction. Why they haven't done this is a mystery to me. Perhaps they should take a poll of parents and students and get some feedback? I'll bet the majority would be in favor of the exam schedule shifting back before the winter break.

Whether that happens or not, students still need to study for final exams if they want to pass them.

My advice to all teens (and adults!) studying for finals is:

"Take lots of breaks. Get up often and stretch, hydrate, walk around, get some exercise. Don't try to sit for hours at a time. Eat well. Sleep."

My post below is from a guest blogger with advice about taking breaks from homework and studying.

Lenore Holditch writes for numerous education resource websites, including Although she covers a wide range of topics related to learning, Lenore especially enjoys writing about recent trends in education and ways parents can supplement their child’s schooling at home. Please leave your questions or comments for her below!

5 Breaks from Homework that Reboot the Brain 
by Lenore Holditch

Homework breaks are typical for kids who have several assignments to complete every night. Although these breaks aren’t very long, most kids still look for ways to fill the time, often by watching television or playing video games. There are better ways to spend this time, though. Ways that actually work to a student’s advantage by reenergizing their mind and strengthening practical skills. 

Listed below are five..    

1. Go for a walk or a bike ride: Exercise is one of the best ways to recharge the brain after a long day of school and homework. If the weather is nice, let your child take a 30-minute break from homework to go for a walk or bike ride around the neighborhood. You can tag along, too, for a little extra exercise, and don’t forget any pets that might enjoy a little outdoor time! 

2. Practice a hobby or talent: Every kid has a hobby or talent that they enjoy. From skateboarding to playing an instrument to drawing, there are a wide range of extracurricular activities that can be practiced during a homework break. Aside from being fun, practicing a hobby is also great exercise for the mind and/or body. Even more, working on a hobby or talent helps build self-esteem.

3. Help prepare dinner: Cooking is fun. It’s also educational, because it reinforces subjects learned in school, including reading, math, and science. Children can even learn about world culture through cooking. If their interested, let your kids take a break from homework to help you prepare an easy meal for dinner. If they aren’t attracted to the idea of cooking, ask them to set the table instead, and before they go back to finishing their homework, make sure they do at least one thing to help clean up. Although this is technically a chore, it’s still a break from homework. Most importantly, it’s practical training for adult life.

4. Work on a craft project: If your child is interested in arts and crafts, help them start a long-term project that they can work on during a homework break. Example projects include scrapbooking, creating homemade holiday decorations, making homemade toys or friendship bracelets, and more. More project ideas can be found at such resourceful websites as,, and This is a fun break idea that that can keep kids busy for hours. Of course, you want them to finish their work and get to bed on time, so be sure they understand that the project should only be worked on for 20 to 30 minutes at a time. To make things easier, set up a workspace in the garage or playroom, and make sure you provide appropriate supervision.

5. Go run an errand: If your child is of driving age, their homework break could be an opportunity to help you finish your to-do list. Give them 30 minutes to drive and pick up the family’s dry cleaning or a few groceries. This is another homework break that also does double duty as a chore and life skills training.

Even if there isn’t any homework on the schedule, the above activities are all great ways to spend the after-school hours at home, away from the television and computer screen.
I’d like to hear from my readers; what other homework break ideas do you all have?


  1. My advice for high schoolers, which schools won't agree with, is for the most part DON'T study.

    Ok, I don't know how universal this is, but at my high school finals counted for 20%, which sounded like an awful lot. But it's not nearly that dramatic when you do the math.

    As an A and B student, I found that in nearly all my classes, the 20% wasn't enough to make much difference. If I was doing very well in a class, I typically already knew the material quite well, and got a decent score on the final without much more than quickly flipping through the pages. If I wasn't doing so well, usually a high score wouldn't be enough to raise the grade, but I was probably not in danger of scoring badly enough to drop. The only time I really needed to study, is when I was borderline between two grades.

    And to be completely honest, I was pretty halfhearted about it even then.

  2. I just saw this post, and while the tips were nice, they don't fit into the reality of what my kids go through. The week before finals, was a regular week, with a huge load of homework, tests, and quizzes. There were projects crammed into the last couple weeks before finals. There was no extra time to study for finals.

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