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Back in Session: How to Make the School Year a Great One

It’s that time again. The countdown to the first day of school. It is the day students will meet the highly-trained professionals charged with instructing and nurturing them for the academic year. A few may face this day with a mix of emotions from nervousness to excitement, but to put minds at ease, teachers conveyed eight tips to the Informer for students (and parents) in primary school to consider along with notes to the parents.

Attend your school’s open house. Knowing how to move around your school will help take some of the nervousness away. It will prevent you from getting lost. So, go with your parent(s) to pick up your schedule. While there take a tour of the school (create a mental map to get from each class), and meet your teacher(s). Note to the parent(s): get an understanding of the environment that will be created to foster a positive learning environment. Have the teacher explain how support materials are made accessible.

Find a friend. Talk to your friends and others in your neighborhood to see if any of them will be in your class. If you find someone you already know who will be in your class, you can reduce first-day anxiety. But, don’t let this prevent you from making new friends. You can learn a lot from people you don’t know. A safe way to make new friends is to partner with someone you don’t know for group projects.

Look how you want to feel. Pick a comfortable outfit and hairstyle that makes your feel confident. When you feel confident, you can take on and accomplish a task. Your performance is also better when you are confident in yourself.

Revisit the reading list. The materials handed out at the close of school to prep you for the new school year may be forgotten, especially if you read them at the beginning of the summer. Go back over the materials to refresh the details in your mind. This is the formation of discipline. Reviewing materials over and over again helps you prepare for upcoming classroom discussions, yielding higher marks on assignments.

Think positively. Think about positive aspects of school before the first day. What new things could you experience? How many new friends you could gain? Positive thinking can combat depression. A positive attitude can help boost the memory function of the brain and in turn improve academic performance on tests. Note to parent(s): pack a comfort food snack or complete lunch to help boost your child’s mood.

Be present. Get a good night’s sleep and eat breakfast. You cannot focus on the material if you are sleeping or your stomach is growling. If you manage to stay awake, your memory, creativity, and decision-making are reduced because you did not get enough sleep. Additionally, a lack of sleep also affects your outlook. Recall that maintaining a positive outlook helps boost your memory function. Note to parent(s): set a nighttime schedule about two weeks to a month before school begins. You might need to phase your child into this night-time routine so plan accordingly.

Motivation. Why do you go to school? There are many reasons but here are the two main reasons. School allows us to gain social skills. It is in school that we interact with people who do not think, act, or look like anyone in our families. School is also necessary to gain skills that help you transition into societal constructs. Sometimes, the reason you don’t understand or grasp information is because of what you are telling yourself about the importance of the tasks before you.

Know what is expected of you. You have two expectations while at school. One is behavioral. Each school and classroom has guidelines for how you should act. The second expectation is academic. Develop goals (the desire or outcome), objectives (the specific action needed to achieve the goal), and tasks (steps necessary to complete the objective) to meet or exceed the expectations.

A final word specifically to parents: Talk to your child about their concerns and excitement and help them identify their motivation for going to school. Discuss how to resolve any issue that may arise. Your child should know that you support them and will resolve issues with adults on their behalf. When resolving issues with the teacher, please reserve judgement and action until after you have spoken to the teacher.

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