As summer winds down to a close and the new school year approaches, parents can help students to prepare for their return to school while ensuring that they will have a successful academic year.
Organization: At the beginning of the school year, parents can encourage their child to develop habits of organization. Parents can help students get organized, especially older students, by teaching them the necessary tools to keep track of upcoming deadlines, assignments, and dates for extracurricular activities. Students should have a separate folder or binder for each class as well as a planner to mark due dates and deadlines throughout the academic year. While most teachers post their deadlines on a website, we suggest students print out these monthly calendars and place them into their binders. Having a physical reference to a deadline will be one extra measure to ensure organization and success. Daily, parents can check students’ planners and homework to ensure that all assignments are being completed. By creating organizational routines to hold students accountable, they will be more likely to complete assignments on time, rather than procrastinate when it comes to studying and homework completion. You may even want to consider getting a family calendar that is placed in a central area in your home where at anytime, your children can look at the family calendar to see what events are coming up. In the same manner, parents can encourage their child to also add their deadlines to the family calendar.
Motivation: Students can choose a quote that becomes a focus for the year, the week, or even the day. Students can research quotes that reflect their personal beliefs and align with their values; it is also a pragmatic exercise in self-expression. When students self-select a quote that they personally identify with, not only will it become a source of motivation, it will be an occasion for celebrating who they are as individuals. Once a quote as been selected, transform the homework area into a motivational learning environment. Here are a few simple ideas to incorporate a motivational quote into your student’s day:
- Write the quote on a post-it note and place it in a prominent place in the workspace.
- Write the quote of the day, the week, the month, or the year on a whiteboard.
- Design screensavers or computer wallpaper to display the selected quote.
- Email your child the quote on days when you notice your challenge is feeling overwhelmed.
- Place numerous quotes in an empty bowl. Each day, have your student draw one of them out. Then, with your child, discuss its meaning, significance, and relevance in his/her life. This is a great dinner time activity and conversation opener.
Mental and Emotional Preparation: The less rigid and unstructured schedule of summer may pose a challenge for students when they have to dive back into the rigorous schedule and routines of the school year. As the first day of school approaches, parents can help students to make the transition easier by gradually reintroducing the bedtime schedule, while setting the alarm a bit earlier each morning. This steady phasing in of the sleep schedule will make the transition easier for students when they return to school.
Create a designated workspace at home, preferably in a quiet location where students can work independently but can easily ask for help if they need it. Stock the area with necessary supplies such as pencils, pens, post-its, white out, paper, scissors, and other materials appropriate for the grade level of your student. Older students may welcome a white board or a bulletin board where they can post homework assignments as well as reminders for upcoming due dates and tests/quizzes. It is crucial to creating a space that enforces and encourages “study time” which is free from social media and media distractions.
Trajectory for College Preparation: As the new school year begins, high school parents can sit down with their students to create a roadmap for college preparation.
- Incoming freshmen, before the school year begins, should map out a trajectory plan for the next four years and eventually for college persistence to a two- or a four-year college. Students should challenge themselves to enroll in more rigorous courses early on in their high school careers rather than postpone them until they are upperclassmen. Within the roadmap, students should create a timeline mapping out important standardized tests, preparatory course opportunities, and scholarship deadlines. While the roadmap may change yearly, beginning this type of conversation allows your family to take the first steps in showing your child how you can support them.
- Sophomores should begin to explore potential career interests and disciplinary areas with a focus on college applications. Students should develop a timeline as they continue to build their resumes, participate in extracurricular and leadership activities, and service opportunities. Most schools do have a service learning requirement for graduation, so this is a perfect year to start looking for those volunteering opportunities.
- Juniors should continue to focus on their college trajectory in their yearly timeline by designating space towards researching internships, summer job prospects, and college visits.
- Seniors should organize their timeline around the application and academic deadlines, dates for recommendations, and standardized tests. In addition, students should begin to narrow down their list of prospective colleges, while planning time to visit different campuses they may not have had time to during the summer. By focusing on their own college trajectory at the beginning of the school year, it sets them up for success in the upcoming year, as well as during their first year in college.
- Contact Mill Creek Academy for information regarding their college application services. With Ms. Wong, the Director’s wealth of experience in this field, her faculty team is ready to support and assist students through the college process.
Finally, don’t wait until your child is struggling in their academic classes to get support. By that time, often it is too late to help your child secure the grade they are hoping for to get. Check our Mill Creek Academy’s schedule of courses to help your child with subjects they may find challenging this year.
Getting into the “back to school” mentality can be a harsh awakening for most parents and students after a relaxing summer, but by following our tips, you will be one step ahead in preparing your child to get back into the groove of learning!