With the start of the school year still a few weeks away, now is the perfect time for you and your student to spend some time planning for a successful year. Here are a few helpful steps that you and your student can take together to start things off on the right foot.
1. Reflect on last year to anticipate opportunities and challenges.
One of the keys to preparedness is learning from past experiences. Prompt your student to reflect on each of their classes and ask themselves a few questions. What were they proud of last year? What was frustrating, or where did they feel like they didn’t put in as much effort as they would’ve liked to? When we reflect on our past, we identify opportunities for future growth.
2. Start the school year with intentionality by setting SMART goals for the semester.
After reflecting on last year, take the time to set specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, time-bound goals. This process empowers your student to start the school year with a clear sense of purpose. Be sure to write them down, and have them put a reminder in their calendar to check back on these goals throughout the school year and make necessary adjustments – flexibility and adaptability are important characteristics of effective goal-setters.
3. Look further into the year.
What will be the big commitments? Will athletics create a crunch in the winter? Will a school play make for a busy March? We can’t know exactly what the year will look like, and there will undoubtedly be surprises, but the process of planning for challenging times of year can help us prepare for any time that we need to be resilient. Talking about this as a family can help you to plan for stormy seas. If everyone knows when to expect that your student will need extra help or maybe a little bit more patience, it’s easier to operate as a team.
4. Don’t get too comfortable in the first month – it doesn’t get real until October.
It feels good to start this school year on the right foot; your student is off and running and nothing can stop them. If your student feels good after the first couple of weeks of school, terrific! However, remember that the first few weeks of school are laying the groundwork for more challenging material that comes later in the year. These weeks are a great opportunity to establish a good routine and help your student put themselves in a great position to achieve their goals. However, it’s usually not until October that most students start to feel the first signs of difficulty. School is no longer fresh and new again, and this is when the real work begins. Awareness and effective self-care are the best ways to combat this. Your other best tool is helping your student to develop a proactive approach to long-term projects so that they don’t find themselves scrambling in the last few days.
5. Get (digitally) organized.
In the past, the start of the school year meant a shopping trip to get new binders, folders, and other back-to-school gear to help you get organized for the year. With so much of schoolwork now being completed and submitted digitally, your student’s computer organization has become even more important than a well-ordered book bag. How did your student organize their school work last year, and are there things that they would do differently? Consider creating separate folders for each class, separating school work applications from applications they use for fun, or using digital tools to help them stay focused when they’re working on their computer.
No matter how thoughtfully we prepare, each school year will bring surprises. Of all the things your student needs, your patience, flexibility, and understanding in the face of new challenges might be most important of all.
If you or your student are feeling overwhelmed by the prospect of a new school year, or if you just want to get a jump on things so that you start the year on the right foot, our expert tutors can help. Complete this short form and learn how we can help support your student’s success.