27 July 2009 11:14 AM

How to Have a Successful School Year I

by Dr. Rick

I love when people want to know what teachers would recommend to parents and students about how to have a successful school year.  That question is a frequent one at this back-to-school time of year.  As a forty-year teacher, I've picked up the odd helpful technique or two.  Here are some tips, for students and parents, that have proved effective over and over.  I’ll present five today and five Thursday.

  1. Organize.  Probably my favorite tip for just about any academic goal.  Keep a planner, electronic or written, and keep track of important dates like book reports, try-outs for the school play, the science fair, and, of course, tests.  Organize your homework area, your notebooks, planners, and backpacks.  Parents, show how you organize for your tasks, projects, and jobs.  Have a special place at the end of the day for the backpack to be – filled with the next day’s assignments – so it’ll be ready in the morning.

  2. Maintain healthy, helpful routines.  Another one of my favorite themes.  Parents, reset summer routines for school-year ones.  Have a regular time for study, recreation, homework, bedtime, mealtimes, and other important activities.  Students, remember routines give you structure and a feeling of control.

  3. Communicate.  Parents, talk to your kids about school every day.  Talk to teachers regularly, either during scheduled meetings or email.  Teachers want to know what your goals are, what your child’s interests, strengths, and needs are.  We want your child to succeed as much as you do.  Know when report cards are distributed, when the major tests are given, when important events are held.  Let your children know that you know.  Keep them on schedule.  Nag when you need to.  Students, talk to your parents about school every day.  They're interested in you and want you to be successful.  If you need help, ask for it.

  4. Get help early.  If you suspect that your student is having difficulty in a subject, get help early.  Get a tutor, ask a teacher for help (more of them than get credit for it arrive early and stay late to help struggling students), or ask a National Honor Society member.  Just don't put it off.  It's easier to solve a problem in its early stages than when it blossoms into a huge one.

  5. Get a "study buddy."  You’ve heard me say this repeatedly.  Studying with someone else is a helpful strategy.  Students, have someone you admire be your study buddy.  Study together and quiz each other at test times.  Call each other each evening at homework time to make sure you understand the assignment and its due date.  Proofread each other’s written work.  Ask for help when you're stuck.  Support each other, compete with each other, and then celebrate with each other.

I think you’ll find these tips helpful.  There are more.  We’ll continue with tips 6-10 on Thursday.  Stay tuned.


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