Another school year is upon us, and students feel the energy of new classes, teachers, and friends, perhaps along with renewed goals and the promise of a fresh start. Whatever one's academic goals for the new school year, students and parents alike are eager to begin on the right foot. It just takes some faithful preparation, organization, and execution to do just that.
First, take stock of your study environment. Have non-scholastic items crept into your study space during the summer? These items will only distract you from the job of being a student, so take some time to remove all clutter from your study area and determine what school supplies you will need and when and where you will procure them.
It is best to study in the same place every night, so make sure you have a desk or table designated for study. It should be well-lighted and face away from any potential distractions. Stock your desk drawers, a shoebox, or other container with pens, pencils, paper, highlighters, calculator, and other supplies.
Make sure a good grammar rule book is handy and use it! Hang a whiteboard above your desk for reminders, to-do lists, and dates of major assignments. Tape a copy of your class schedule to your desk or wall.
Organizing your locker and backpack is equally important. Make sure both contain plenty of school supplies and only current class materials. Tape a copy of your school schedule on the inside of your locker door, and place one in a pocket in your backpack. Don't forget to write down your locker combination or store it in your phone.
Make sure you have the appropriate binders, notebooks, and/or folders for each class. Binders should contain notebook paper and/or graph paper and dividers for separating notes, graded work, and handouts. Label the outside of each binder or notebook with the class name and your name so that you can easily spot it. Using a specific colored binder/notebook/folder for each class helps you make sure you always have the correct materials. Put your name on all of your books, too, so they can be returned to you should you falter in your quest for organization and misplace any of them.
Now that you are organized, you are ready for class. Choose a desk in the classroom where you are least likely to be distracted. As soon as you are seated, take out your notebook, writing utensil, and any outside classroom work due that day. Listen to your teacher's opening remarks and pay attention to anything the teacher emphasizes or repeats; that is a clue that the information is important. Take notes and play an active role in class discussion. Write down homework assignments in class when the teacher posts them.
You can use Renweb to double check your assignments after class. Make note of your teachers' work period availability and plan to attend work period each week.
Once you are back in your room or at home and ready to study, place your phone out of sight and sound and settle in to your highly organized study area. Use your white board to prioritize your assignments. Schedule a specific number of minutes (30-45) for focused study. Use well-known stalling techniques, such as getting a snack, calling/texting a friend, etc., as a reward when you finish a task. Take a 10-15 minute break between study sessions. Ideally, your breaks should involve activity rather than screen time: play with the family pet, walk around the yard or house, shoot baskets, play an instrument. As soon as you have completed an assignment, cross it out on your whiteboard (this feels great!), and immediately place the assignment in a homework folder or designated place in the appropriate binder. The bottom of the back pack is not an option!
Don't forget the importance of sleep. Stick to a regular schedule of sleep and wake. You won't be able to follow through on any of these habits of a good student if you can't stay awake in class!
Get organized and remain disciplined, but don't forget to ask for help from your teachers, advisor, house parent, or parents because this organization business doesn't come naturally to many of us. Remember, you have a team of folks ready to help you enjoy a successful school year!