Thursday, August 1, 2013

How to Prepare for the Coming School Year

We all despise that day when we look at a calendar and realize that summer isn't going to last forever. Pretty soon, many of us will be right back where we started last August: at a school desk, listening to a lecture, writing essays, performing lab experiments, and reading until your eyes just can't take it anymore.

Now don't get me wrong, I like school. Something about it makes me want to go to the nearest Office Depot and buy everyone I know a lifetime supply of sharpened pencils. Not to mention all the ways you can decorate your binders, and label your notebooks, and cut out pieces of paper only to find one of the best crafty creations of all time. We always seem to find ourselves re-creating a mindset of eating lunch with our friends and showing our parents a report card chock full of straight A's and B's.

However, this mindset is easier to dream than to turn into a reality. How do we prepare for the challenges ahead?

Congratulations, you receive 1000 brownie points, a gold sticker, and an A+, because lucky for you all, you found my blog. So, I'd like to treat you to the master how-to checklist for conquering the preparation it takes to survive the next nine or ten months at a school desk.

1. Reflect
As students, we grow up being told to study the proper way, and the proper way is to study ourselves and figure out what works best for us. For example, in a language class, everybody has to memorize a ton of vocabulary from English to the language or the language to English. Plenty of people struggle with this, and they have to figure out what way to study truly works for them, whether it's flashcards, putting your hand over the page, or reading it over and over again until it's memorized. Before you start preparing in any other way for this coming school year, reflect on what kinds of things worked for you in studying for tests, quizzes, and homework, planning out your schedule, organizing notes and materials, and accomplishing tasks. What should you keep doing? What needs to change?

2. Inventory (Studying Materials and School Supplies)
After you reflect and answer the questions at the end of #1, the next question you need to ask yourself is, "What do I need in order to keep doing or change what I did last year?" You might need your master list of school supplies for this one. If your teachers provided one, then definitely use it, but try to add some things that you might need just for you, such as extra colored pens for color coded note-taking, or highlighters or index cards. This is one of my favorite parts because it's where I get to go on a treasure hunt around the house. Don't waste your parent's or your own money either, because if something you need is in the house and in perfectly working order, then use it for the coming school year and save your money for a new package of magic erasers to replace your crumbly, dysfunctional one.

3. Inventory (School Clothes & Teacher Recommended Items)
Speaking as a girl, certain situations arise in the late summer where I kind of freak out about my sense of style for the coming school year. I go to a school where on Fridays I have to wear uniforms, which makes things pretty easy to plan outfits, but for the rest of the week, I have more freedom to wear things outside of a more strict dress code. I'd say that the best way to prepare your closet for school is to go through it, and see what you usually wear and don't wear much at all. If you don't wear something, give it away, if you do wear it often, then keep it. If you have a dress code at your school, then make sure you have all the things you need in order to follow it. If you do not, then make sure you have appropriate and necessary clothing in order to get through the school day. Don't forget to make sure you have things like sweaters or school spirit wear so that when the weather gets colder, you'll be comfortable in class, or if you have school spirit wear, you can have it ready for spirit days.
As far as teacher recommended items go, it's important to make sure you have everything that they tell you to have ready. Most schools give out a school newsletter in the summer with information on school supplies, summer homework, and specific materials needed for each class. If possible, figure out what classes you'll be in that semester so that you can get the specific information needed for each individual class. If your school has orientations, try not to miss those either. Orientations are gold mines for important information to help you survive the school year.

4. Make a study area
At my school, I am provided with an online class study area. In other words, my brick-and-mortar school gives me an entire office area complete with a computer, a desk with a chair, a cubicle, and a bookshelf so that I can do online classes during the day, and have a homework study area in between classes as well. I love this privilege, but I lacked an area like this at home. It was great to have an area prepared to do homework at school, but I always went home to study in several different locations around the house. This resulted in several messy rooms in the house and lots of distractions, as I sometimes chose locations to study unwisely. A couple of weeks ago, I decided that I would find a specific place to study at home, and stick to that place as my special "study area." Several study skills experts say this is a great thing to invest in for a student because it's consistent and helps them be much more organized. This place can be almost anywhere in the house, as long as it's in a quiet and comfortable place so that the student can focus. Make sure that you have a desk with the materials needed for homework and studying such as pens, pencils, erasers, highlighters, index cards, paper, mathematical instruments, and in some cases, a computer.

5. Organizing & Planning
Once you have everything you need in terms of materials and places to put them, it's time to organize them all. Label all of your school supplies and put them in a place where you'll know to find them when they are needed. Now of course the first day of school isn't here yet, so put the things that you'll need to bring to your locker and new classes in different bags. For example, keep your notebooks, and locker decorations in a bag for your locker stuff, and put your school supplies that you need to carry with you into different classes in your backpack. If your school doesn't provide one, make sure that you get your own student planner. It will help you organize and plan out your homework assignments, tests, and important class events and announcements, and also help you organize after-school activities. It's also a good idea to make sure you have routines planned out so that you will have good habits and get things done on time, whether it's getting to the school bus stop at the right time, getting to class on time, or doing your homework in an organized way.

So that's it! 5 ways to make sure that you are as prepared as possible for the coming school year. Except one more thing: Don't worry. God's in control. :)

Question for the Reader (A round of "Would you rather..."): Would you rather have a monkey do your homework all school year or go without all of your school supplies for the entire school year (no pens, pencils, highlighters, paper, notebooks, binders, index cards, or flash drives, etc.)?

Happy National Simplify Your Life Week!

"For the Lord gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding." --Proverbs 2:6

1 comment:

  1. thanks for the tips, hayley! very helpful. :)

    haha! I think I'd rather go without school supplies. while it would be nearly impossible for me to not take notes during classes, I would rather try for a good grade than leave my grade to a monkey. hahahaha :D


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