Summer is quickly coming to a close and schools in the area will be starting classes in just over a week. So…what are you doing to be prepared for not just the first day of school, but also the whole year? While it’s a bit of a bummer to be thinking about school while trying to enjoy the last days of summer, it can also be an invigorating time in which students get a fresh start on a new year. I’ve always loved the back-to-school time of year despite the accompanying nostalgia of an ending and fleeting summer because it allows for endless possibilities and a renewed focus on learning with new goals and motivations. This is the time of year when many students are feeling the greatest levels of optimism regarding their future success and their highest levels of motivation, so tap into these feelings and use them to build a framework for success!
Here are a few quick tips for getting a jump on the school year and setting yourself up for a successful year:
- Set achievable and specific goals for the semester or quarter and year.
- Write them down (even on a bulletin or white board) so you can read them when work gets challenging and you need motivation.
- Buy materials now. Anticipate needing extra supplies of frequently used items such as post-its, appropriate writing paper, etc…
- Pre-read or prepare in content.
- Prepare for any challenging, upcoming classes by reading or skimming recommended texts, watching relevant videos or media, working with a teacher, tutor, or parent, etc…
- If assigned summer reading or work was very difficult or problematic, consult the teacher prior to the first day of school if possible. Otherwise talk to the teacher during the first week- this is essential as summer work is an assessment of student’s abilities.
- Get a planner that works for you, whether a paper planner or electronic. Have it all the time. Use it. Be consistent.
- Make a study plan and/or schedule now.
- Block out chunks of time for studying, schoolwork, and similar commitments. Prioritize most important work and activities.
- Visualize Success. This goes along with setting those goals. Create a picture(s) in your mind of what it looks like once you have worked hard and have accomplished those goals.
- This will help keep you motivated because you have a specific visual of what it is that you’re working for.
- Preemptively strike against the mid-semester slump
- Always be proactive. Make a plan now! Battle complacency. Have strategies for motivation, relaxation, etc… as well as strategies for what to do IF you feel yourself starting to struggle or fall behind.
My good friend Simone, who is also an amazing student and one of the smartest people I know, is back in school doing postgraduate work in nursing and is currently preparing for a difficult semester of rigorous work. We had a rich conversation on this very topic and she left me with the wise adage: “Start strong, finish strong.” She is absolutely right: if one starts the school year in a disorganized and unprepared manner, it’s already a bit of a losing game and it’s possible to spend an entire semester or even year trying to “catch up”.
But by implementing these simple strategies, all students can start the academic year as their best selves and with high chances for success, however “success” is defined to them and their families. Many parents can assist their children or teenagers in effectively getting set up for success, but many need a professional to help create this structure and keep students on track. In those cases, don’t hesitate to reach out to a tutor or coach who can work with your child to help them be the best student they can be.
I wish all students a positive, productive, and enjoyable school year!