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Back to School Time: Setting Yourself Up For Success At Home and At School

During the heat of the summer, many families focus on planning their trips, enjoying the water, and trying to refresh for another school year. Of course, the end of the summer marks a return to school and many parents will find themselves rushing to the store to pick up that last minute supplies while also trying to shepherd their children into finishing that last-minute summer reading assignment. Unfortunately, this frenetic pace can also leave parents and their children prone to being unprepared for the start of the new school year. With a new grade level comes new challenges that children need to be prepared for. Fortunately, we have put together some helpful tips and tricks that we pulled from Where There’s A Will There’s an A, which has been recognized for its superior quality.

Success Starts at Home

It is important for parents to make sure that their kids are prepared for the new school year. This means making sure that the home is well-stocked. Examples of important supplies to have around include:

  1. Pencils (mechanical for older kids only)

  2. Pens (regular and erasable)

  3. Erasers

  4. Highlighters (3-6 colors)

  5. Sharpies (fat and thin)

  6. 3×5 index cards

  7. Sticky notes (square and small rectangle)

  8. Loose leaf paper and graph paper

  9. Spiral notebooks

  10. Calculators

Remember, that as children move from grade to grade their calculator will need to become more advanced. Some of the commonly forgotten items are folders and baskets to help organize all of this supplies. Don’t miss these other school preparation tips from!

Once in Class…

When the child leaves the door and heads to school, they start to make their own decisions; however, this doesn’t mean that there isn’t room for encouragement.

Make sure your child knows how to stay organized in the classroom. Certain work goes in certain folders and they should know when to use pencil, pen, and highlighter. Providing erasers for pencils and pens will help them relax if they make a mistake while taking notes.

To help make sure all of the back to school prep is done, Martha Stewart shares her advice here here!


Collect the Information: Pay Attention

It is helpful for parents to remind their child that their job is to go to school in the same way that their parents go to work. Going to school involves sitting up and paying attention. Important points to keep in mind include:

  1. Talk with the child about how they are sitting in their chair. They need to appear engaged so that they are ready to collect the information.

  2. Talk with them about the importance of making eye contact and taking notes appropriately. They need to focus on the highlights of the lesson so that they are there when it comes time to reconstruct the lesson and do their homework.

Furthermore, once in class, actually sit in the front. Students who sit in the front feel compelled to pay attention and will be able to hear the lesson better. Specifically, our acronym SLANT has helped many students become successful learners because it helps them pay attention. The letters stand for:

  1. Sit up

  2. Lean forward

  3. Actively listen

  4. Nod

  5. Track the teacher

The goal of this body language and positioning is to send a message. Specifically, that message is to the teacher that the child is interested in the lesson. Active listening is key, and teachers will respond positively to students that they know are paying attention.


Note Taking Tips

Along the same lines, it is crucial for both parents and teachers to talk with their students about the proper way to construct notes. There is no way for a child to catch everything in the lesson; however, they need to write down enough so that they can use the lesson to both do their homework and study for tests.

Make sure to review your child’s notes from the day along with their homework assignments. If there are issues with the organization of their notes, they will reveal themselves. Some important note-taking tips include:

  1. Start taking notes as soon as class starts. This means important dates and times.

  2. If it goes on the board, it goes into the notes.

  3. Do not neglect film, photos, and overhead projections. These are a part of the lesson.

  4. Review the notes after class to fill in any gaps that might have been missed while the information is still fresh.

When the students review their notes at home, make sure that they are doing so in a well-lighted room free from loud noises and distractions.


Other in Class Techniques

While some of these tips may appear obvious, it is amazing how often they aren’t followed. Some of these tips include:

  1. The most important part of being in class is to actually go to it. Students who try to skip class, miss class for appointments, or are out sick are deprived of crucial learning opportunities.

  2. Remember to turn in assignments. Many students do their homework but simply forget to turn it in. They don’t receive credit for the hard work that they have done.

  3. Sometimes, students simply lose the work as it gets crushed in the bottom of the backpack. Use our folders system and BackPack Dump to make sure this doesn’t happen.

  4. Finally, the first and last moments of class are crucial. Important dates and times are often mentioned and students are often too busy getting settled in or packing up their backpacks to leave.


The Two-Week Massive Attack

It takes 30 days to create a habit. The beginning of the school year (or new semester) is the most important time to create good habits.  Do everything you can to help your child be the best student they can be during the first 2-4 weeks of each semester. This will help to create good habits.

Start each semester quickly by taking great notes, turning all assignments, and arriving for class on time every day. Starting quickly will provide a solid foundation upon which all of the rest of the information over those two weeks can be built.


Closing: The Axe and the Hammer

Ultimately, being a successful student involves working harder instead of smarter. Too often, students study in ways that are “hammers.” Hammers are imprecise tools that can make it harder to accomplish the task.

  1. An ink pen is a hammer if you are writing an essay…use an erasable pen or a pencil as an axe

  2. Highlighting everything on the page makes your highlighter a hammer…only highlight things you don’t know or things you may feel a teacher will put on a test

  3. Late night cram sessions are a hammer if you are preparing for a test at the last minute…make that cram session an axe by preparing a bit each night the week before the test.

Students instead should focus on being “axes.” These are precise study tools that accomplish the job with fewer swings. Therefore, parents should try to review these effective study habits with their students to make sure that they are making the most of their time.

The goal is to acquire as much information (and retain it) as possible for every minute spend studying. This means using the study skills discusses above.

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