3 Quick & Easy 'TO-DOs' for an Effective School Year - PART 1

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For most high school students, Labor Day weekend signals the coming of the inevitable: the school year. They live through these last days of vacation in a state of selective denial, clinging on desperately to the summer, while knowing they need (and should) get ready for the start of school. But if they also knew that spending just an hour or two now to PLAN, ORGANIZE, and SET GOALS would potentially save them so much headache and stress later, they might change that denial into acceptance, and feel good (or better, we won't push our luck) about going back to school.

Here are three quick, and very important, TO-DOs you can help your child complete BEFORE the first day of school:

1. PLAN

Start using a web-based planner/calendar. Many high schools provide paper planners to their students, which is helpful. But paper planners don't alert you about an upcoming test or allow you to attach an assignment sheet to a particular event. And to color-code in a paper planner (a very helpful tool) might require a Visual Arts degree. To my Learning Habits students I always recommend Google Calendar because of its features and because of its integration with Google Drive; but you can use whatever platform you're most comfortable using. Here's what to do in the calendar once you've gotten your class schedule:

  • Input all your KNOWN COMMITTED TIMES for the whole year (use recurring appointments feature). This includes SCHOOL, PRACTICES, TOURNAMENTS, etc.. Don't forget to include Holidays and Spring Break!

  • Color-code your categories. This will make events easier to find and, on a more qualitative note, it will give you a visual of how you're distributing your time. If 'school' is red (favorite option for most of my students), 'sports' is green, and 'study time' is blue, it might remind you to put some orange in that week for 'social time' - remember to schedule downtime to recharge your batteries!

  • Get in the habit of PLANNING WEEKLY. Schedule 20-30mins every Sunday night, for example, to look at the week ahead and plan where you'll make the time to study for that chemistry test, how many times during the week you'll work out or practice your violin, and when you'll start planning your friend's surprise birthday party! Just make sure you're not 'sharing' the calendar with her.

In PART 2 of this series, we’ll find out that planning is much more effective if we take care of a bit of simple ‘housekeeping’ first. Make sure you’re following us on IG @academicresources or on our FB page.