Aw, the glorious days of summer. Staying up late and sleeping in until noon. A teenagers dream. But going back to school does not have to be a nightmare. By easing your teen back into a routine with some planning and organization, they can feel better prepared for the coming school year. And a prepared student is a less anxious one.
Make a plan.
There are so many unknown steps for teens that when they think about starting school again, they feel overwhelmed. By helping them check things off of a list, their outlook will change from apprehension to anticipation.
- Map out the school – If they have attended the school before, simply looking at their schedule and mapping out where the classes are located in their head will suffice. However, if it is a new school or they are unfamiliar with a certain area of campus, they can schedule a time to do a “walk through” at their school and eliminate any nervousness due to being late or getting lost.
- Discuss options for getting to and from school – Do you live close enough for them to walk or ride a bike? Decide what to do if it starts raining. Will they be catching a ride with a friend? Come up with a Plan B if that ride falls through. Are they old enough to drive themselves? Review safety measures and what to do if they get in an accident or get a flat tire.
- Meal plan – Choose ahead of time what your student will be doing for lunch. You can offer or they can choose to pack a lunch to take with them every day. Or, if they can purchase a lunch on the school campus, discuss a daily budget and what their options are. Or, combine the two. The important thing is to have a plan, so they don’t rely on vending machine snacks to get them through their day.
- Manage after-school time – Whether it’s setting aside time to get homework done or participating in extracurricular activities, make a check list or set of tasks that prioritizes what is most important to your family first. Remember, there are only so many hours in a day so your teen needs to use their after-school time wisely.
- Plan how to stay organized – Between the coursework, test prep, clubs and extracurricular activities, there will be a great deal that your student has to keep up with. Help them come up with a game plan to stay organized, and then purchase the supplies to support that plan. Whether you need folders, planners or binders, set your student up for success with the proper tools to keep them on track.
Ease back into a routine.
Your teen has most likely been coasting through the summer. Or maybe they have kept busy, but are on a completely different schedule than their school one. Now is the time to start transitioning back to that routine so they can face their first week back a step ahead, instead of ending up a step behind.
- Re-establish good sleep habits – Talk to your teen about when they will need to wake up, be showered, dressed, fed and all packed up and out the door. Then over the course of a few weeks, start adjusting bedtime and wake-up time earlier and earlier, so that the change from summer to school schedule does not slap them in the face. “The National Sleep Foundation says sleep difficulties can affect learning, so the weeks before school resumes are the perfect time to shake that Summer schedule” (Popsugar).
- Start using a planner – No need to wait until school officially starts. Open up that brand new planner and start getting in the habit of using it every day. Even if they just practice by writing down a to-do list of what you would like them to do each day, your teen will benefit in the repetition.
- Play brain games – Some teens can miraculously switch off their brain all summer. And, much like a muscle, the brain needs to keep exercising in order to function better. If you don’t use it, the brain takes a bit to get running again at its best. Find cross word puzzles, Sudoku, and other mind games to ease back into thinking again. Read books instead of watching TV or playing games on technology devices. A few simple activities a day can give your teen’s brain the jump-start it needs to start thinking again on the first day of school.
Be prepared for that very first day.
Making certain decisions and doing simple research will boost your student’s confidence from the minute they wake up.
- Finish any summer assignments – If your student had research to do, it needs to be done. If they had reading to finish, it needs to be finished. Unfinished work or last-minute scrambling is not the tone you want your teen to set for a brand new school year.
- Take care of appearances – Even though it may seem silly to you, remember, teens, base many opinions on appearance and first impressions. So treat your student to a new hair cut. Take them shopping for their first day of school outfit. If they are on a sports team, or if they haven’t had a check-up in a while, take them to get a physical. Many families wait until the last-minute to schedule their doctor’s appointment so be sure to schedule one early.
- Find out what resources will be available – “Do your teachers post assignments on their websites? Does your school have a homework hotline? Does your school offer tutoring for specific exams, such as the HSAP, SAT, ACT, etc.? When does each teacher offer tutoring? Does your library have a wide selection of study materials? (Psychology Today).” It is best to find the answers to these questions before the school year starts so that you and your student are not in a pinch when the stress sets in.
- Set personal goals and share them with the teacher – Motivate your teen to commit ahead of time to improvements and changes they want to make from last year. Present these goals to your student’s teacher and have them hold you and your teen accountable.
Shifting from summer to back to school can be a shock to the system. Especially for teens that have adapted to a different schedule or lifestyle, the above steps will get your teen ready and help them have an enjoyable school year. Please contact us at The Tenney School to learn more about setting your student up for success this year.