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How to Help Your Student Get out of a Slump

We all get stuck sometimes. Recently, we spoke about Seasonal Affective Disorder, but really, there are endless possible reasons for why it happens. Whether due to overscheduling, bad sleep habits, or just plain burnout, getting into a rut is something that all students experience from time to time. The important thing, however, is what we do to recover when a slump does inevitably hit.

Rather than get caught up on exactly what the cause of a particular dull period is, let’s take a look at some useful strategies for making sure that slumps don’t get the best of us regardless of how or when they happen.

Get Organized

Sometimes, the way things are around us can have a big effect on the way we feel. If a student is feeling lost or unmotivated, cleaning up and rearranging his or her space (bedroom, locker, etc.) can help them feel like they can regain control of their thoughts as well.

Step Back

The most basic tip on this list can also be the hardest to actually accomplish. Often, when we’re in the midst of a struggle, it’s easy to lose sight of the big picture. This leads to frustration and stepping back and thinking objectively can be the last thing on a student’s mind. A short break can be a good opportunity to gain perspective, but really, there’s never a bad time to take stock. Sometimes perspective makes all the difference.

Think Small

One of the most common things that comes with hitting a rut is the feeling of being overwhelmed by the size or number of the tasks that need to get done. Encourage your student to break big jobs down into smaller tasks can make them seem far more manageable. Similarly, the best goals are not large, grand things for far in the future, they’re relatively small and attainable. Making sure that milestones are set realistically and celebrating these minor successes can play an important role in keeping students engaged in their studies. (To read more about goal setting, check out our post on SMART goals.)


Similar to the previous tip, deciding which tasks are important and which can wait is another important piece of the puzzle. Nothing breeds a sense of tedium like getting bogged down trying to solve some a problem that has no meaningful payoff or doesn’t really matter in the long run. Making a list of each task on a student’s agenda and then ranking them in order of urgency can help bring important tasks into focus and eliminate the “fluff.”

Embrace Imperfection

Another struggle that can leave many students feeling unmotivated or hopeless is the sense that, no matter how hard they try, they will never be able to get something right. This is especially common with students who suffer from anxiety, but it’s found across the board, and is sometimes even (unintentionally) reinforced by overbearing parents or teachers. It’s important for students to remember that the process of trying and learning matters more than the hard results. Just because they may not be able to achieve perfection in whatever they’re working on doesn’t meant that their efforts are worthless.

Be Kind to Yourself

Lastly, it’s far too easy for students to be hard on themselves. Whether it’s about meeting the expectations of their parents, impressing their peers, or even their own inner standards, many students spend more time convincing themselves that they are not doing enough. Similar to our previous suggestion, celebrating small achievements rather than focusing on how much better it could have been can helps students fell like they are working for a purpose.

Aside from these, there are hundreds of tips and tricks that can be useful to help students of all ages regain their motivation. The most important thing to remember is that it happens to everyone; the difference between successes and failures is how we respond to adversity when it does come.

Evan Weinberger


Staying Ahead of the Game offers unique academic coaching & tutoring services to help good students achieve greatness.

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