Sandy Spring Friends School



End of 1st Quarter Tips

End of 1st Quarter Tips

By Shannon Needham, Upper School Learning Specialist

November 3 is almost here! Can you believe that the first quarter is coming to an end already? Don’t stress! The end of the first quarter is a great time to review your student’s academic progress. One important thing to remember: Only semester grades (distributed in January and June) appear on a student’s transcript. Quarter grades are just a halfway check-in on the way to semester grades, so while they are important, they are also an opportunity to modify systems and increase supports if necessary.

Still, the two weeks leading up to the end of the quarter can be a stressful time for students (and therefore, families!). The volume of unit tests and culminating projects may increase as teachers assess student learning in preparation for grade reports and parent conferences. Read on for tips to prepare for this potential  increase and reduce unnecessary stress.

End-of-Quarter Tips

Stress is a normal part of life. The right amount of stress contributes to motivation, and when we manage that stress well, we often achieve and innovate in remarkable ways! One of SSFS’s cross-divisional Professional Development Pathways has been looking at stress through the Self-Reg framework. This framework encourages us to reframe behavior, consider the many factors that may be contributing to stress, and engage strategies that help us calm our alert systems so that we can use the stress productively. 

End-of-quarter assessments logically contribute to cognitive stress, since that is a natural part of learning, but this stress can be compounded by stress in the other domains: physical, emotional, social, and prosocial.

For example, if your student arrives home, slams their backpack to the floor, is rude to their sibling, and stomps off to their room in the next couple of weeks, it could be that academic stress of the quarter ending is contributing to it. Helping your student identify and meet some of their biological, social, and emotional stressors will leave them with more energy to meet the cognitive challenge of the moment.

So what can we do?

Encourage habits that meet biological needs

  • Model and promote healthy sleep habits. Our brains don’t work efficiently without adequate sleep!
  • Encourage healthy meals and snacks. Brains need good fuel!
  • Schedule and model movement breaks for yourself and your family. Our bodies and brains are connected!
  • As the weather turns colder, make sure your student has clothes that fit/are warm and comfortable. This may seem silly, but adolescent humans often find that the clothes from last year no longer fit at all! It’s important that our bodies feel good when we are asking a lot of our brains.

Plan Ahead

  • Take a look at the family calendar between now and the beginning of November. Are weekends packed? Are sports tournaments filling every spare moment? Are there upcoming holidays or family celebrations that require travel? Help your student anticipate the ways these “life events” may impact any upcoming homework and study time. Is there anything that can be rescheduled or delayed until after the end of the quarter?
  • Make sure your student has access to basic office/school supplies at home. Consider basic arts & crafts items as well. IIf possible, keeping a few pieces of poster board and markers around might save you the stress of a last minute trip to buy some!

In the Moment

  • Take care of yourself! Take a deep breath, take a walk, do what you need to do to calm your own stress and be present for your student. 
  • When your student is responding emotionally to stress, comfort them and engage in listening before reacting or problem solving. 
  • Help your student identify non-cognitive stressors that might be easily addressed. Do they need to spend some time in their favorite sweatshirt listening to music before they start working? Can you take a quick walk together?
  • Help your student organize and prioritize their current academic stress and workload. A whiteboard works well for this! Some students have a hard time working through school work with their family members. If this is the case for your household, reach out to your student’s advisor or to us (Shannon; Ebe and let us know that you’d like us to help your student organize and prioritize their work/classes.

At the Start of Quarter 2:

  • Remember, quarter grades are only a snapshot of student progress and will not appear on your student’s transcript.
  • Review your student’s quarter grade with them, and ask the following questions:
    • In which classes did you feel the most successful? What helped you be successful in those classes?
    • In which classes did you learn the most? Do you feel like your grades in those classes reflect that?
    • Are you disappointed by any of your grades? What actions can you take to work towards a different grade?
    • What additional support might you need to increase your learning and/or performance?

As always, we are here to support you and your student! Please feel free to reach out:
Shannon :; Ebe: 

Subscribe To The Gnu Stories Podcast:

Listen on Spotify Listen on Apple Podcasts

More Stories