As we get ready to say goodbye to the lazy days of summer, it’s time to turn our attention to the new school year. Whether you’re a student yourself or a parent responsible for one, make the often harsh transition a lot easier with these four tips for starting the school year off on the right foot.
1. Plan Out and Reset Your Daily Schedule
Many adults and children have different schedules during summer vacation than they do during the school year. Bedtimes and wakeup times creep later or simply become irregular. Two of the biggest keys to a student’s success, though, are getting enough sleep and sticking to a consistent routine, so now’s the time to ease into the new fall schedule.
- Slowly move bedtimes and wakeup times back to what they should be during the school year. You can do this gradually over one or two weeks. If meal times or other regular routines have changed over the summer vacation, reset those as well.
- Block out the school schedule (holidays, test days, etc.) on a calendar. For parents, a family calendar in a prominent place helps everyone see what’s going on at a glance, including after school activities and childcare. College students should map out their class schedule for the next semester and also block out times for studying, meal, exercise, and other essentials, as this 8-hour college day planner recommends. Web-based Semester Planner can help you organize the classes you’re taking and track assignments. Shoshiku is an alternative that also includes email alerts.
- Figure out where you’re going. One of the biggest stressors at the start of school is if you’re going to a new building or your classes are in different locations than last year. College students should look at a campus map and plot out how they’re going to get from one place to the next, based on their schedule. Other students/parents should know the route to school, where the classrooms are, and how long it takes to get there.
2. Organize Your Workspace and Supplies
If you (or your child) don’t have an organized area to work in yet, now’s the time to get it set up.
- Declutter and streamline the workspace. Make sure it’s a quiet, distraction-free place. Older students might benefit from using one of the many distraction-killing apps and tricks people in the workforce use.
- Stock up on the supplies you need, including any organization accessories like file folders or desk trays.
- If you’re buying a new computer for school, you might want to set the computer up before the first day of school, so you’re not fumbling with the PC at the last minute.
- On the other hand, perhaps you shouldn't buy textbooks ahead of time, depending on the class. Hack College offers this tip: “it may be wise to check ratemyprofessor.com to see if the professor of your class actually requires their students to use the textbook. If the site’s reviews say that you do not need the book for the class, then you can either not buy the book, or buy it from somewhere that you know you can return it, and receive a full refund.” Or rent or copy a textbook, perhaps.
- Make sure you have a system for processing school work (a file accordian? Scanner and laptop?) and keeping upcoming assignments front and center. (I use a clear plastic folder by our front door to hold school notes and similar paperwork, and a file box to store student artwork and tests until I get a chance to process them.)
- Speaking of paperwork, there’s often lots needed at the start of the year, such as medical forms or immunization records. Now's the time to get those medical and other appointments out of the way so you can have the forms ready when you need them.
3. Get in the Back-to-School Mindset
The new school year is a refreshing time, when you get to start anew. Then again, your mind might still be back at the beach. To get juiced up about the new semester:
- Review your previous academic achievements. The summer might have made you forget about that awesome term paper you wrote last fall or the straight A’s in math. A quick review can not only energize you for the new school year, it can help you identify areas you might want to work on more this semester.
- Set goals for yourself for this upcoming school year. Setting goals (and sticking with them) is an important skill students of all ages can learn. Instead of vague goals like “get good grades,” come up with SMART goals like “During the first marking period, I will complete my homework during the hours of 6 to 7 p.m. on school nights at my desk in my bedroom. After completing my homework, I will put my homework in a homework folder and put it in my backpack. At school the next day I will turn in my homework to my teacher. I will revise this goal after receiving my first marking period report card.” Scholastic has a list of everyday study skills and activity sheets to learn about setting goals, managing time, and creating the right environment.
4. Start the First Week the Way You Want to Continue
Doing the above should help you get a good start on the school year. You can make the first week even easier by setting up the daily routines that make school life easier.
- The weekend before, pick out outfits for the week with your child.(College students, this is up to you.) -Each night before school, prep lunch and snacks, and maybe even dinner.
- Throughout the week, try to get to school early, check out the school’s resources, and start making friends in class. Since it’s the start of the term, it’s also a good time to visit the college counselor.
- A “Get ready for school!” checklist might help both young and older lazybones do what’s needed to get ready in the morning.
Have a great semester/school year!