Tips for Back To School
It’s the end of August and that means back to school is coming! In just a few weeks students will be heading back to school and although that may look a little different this year, many of the same ideas apply when preparing for the new school year. Back to school can be both exciting and scary for students. Some students may be starting high school this year, others may be in their final year and preparing to take the next step into post secondary. Some students may not be going back to a classroom full-time and will need to be adaptable to a new way of learning.
Regardless of what is coming your way in September there are a number of things you can do to prepare for the new school year and since back to school can be stressful, Ontario eSecondary School wanted to provide you with a back to school plan to kick off the new school year.
1. Set personal and academic goals.
Setting personal and academic goals before going back to school is a great way to get yourself prepared for the new school year. As we covered in our blog in February; Setting Academic Goals, it’s important to set goals for yourself on a personal and academic level. Goal setting gives you direction and empowers you towards positive behaviour. It confirms your aspirations and desires and helps you get over obstacles to get there. In our blog we discussed the importance of setting S.M.A.R.T. goals. This means they are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely.
- Specific: Goals should be clear and it should be obvious what you want from them. It should be well defined and understood by anyone who sees it written down.
- Measurable: Being able to measure if you accomplished the goal is important when setting your next one. Therefore you need to create some way to verify whether or not you are on track to achieving your goal.
- Achievable: Your goal should be realistic. If you set a goal that is not really possible for you, it may be too challenging and could become something you may not want to work on.
- Realistic or Results-Focused: Always ensure you have a focus on a measurable outcome and that your goal is realistic and achievable.
- Timely or Time-Bound: Set a timeline for your goal. It should have a start and an end date. This ensures that your goal doesn’t linger or take too long.
Setting goals can be simple. On an academic level, this could be something as simple as vowing to stop procrastinating or become more actively involved in your courses. On a personal level, consider setting personal goals like distressing in the evening and setting time aside for mindfulness.
2. Prepare your personal study space and organize your backpack.
Many of our goals for back to school are pretty simple and centred around simply getting organized. One of the best ways is to organize your personal study space at home, and to organize your backpack. It sounds pretty simple, but make sure all your items from the previous school year or from use through the summer is clear and new notebooks are prepared for the new year.
It is also helpful to take some time to clean and organize your desk at home. Make some time to set up your desk, go through your drawers and throw away any items you no longer need (be sure not to throw out something you may need. As we covered in our blog, Six Effective Study Habits, setting up a workspace is one of the more important things you can do to get prepared for the school year. Removing the baggage of previous school years or items that have accumulated for the year can help you get in the right headspace for starting anew.
3. Set up a productive workspace at home.
Having a well organized workspace is extremely important when preparing for the school year. Establishing a defined workspace has many benefits such as allowing you to control your environment and avoid distractions, but also assist with setting a tone you prefer, whether with music or complete silence. Having an organized workspace can also help you to get organized in your school, work and personal life.
Good lighting whether by a window or lamp is also important. Consider yellow lighting if you expect to be working or studying during the evening and, white lighting if you need a boost of light during the day time. Since the school year means that the nights will be getting longer, consider what bulb will be effective for your workspace.
Ensure your workspace has all the materials you need. Prepare the space with notebooks, pens, paper, and anything else you may need to be productive. If you have one, check your computer operating system has been updated and the software you need is downloaded and ready to go.
If it’s possible a good chair and desk is also something you should consider. Studying can happen over extended periods of time and preparing for the new school year with a good study space can give you that extra boost for going back to school.
Although having a workspace at home is helpful for setting parameters, it’s also helpful to have multiple places where you can study and work from. Don’t be glued to that space just because you have it. In 2010, cognitive scientists had shown that a few simple techniques can improve how much a student learns from studying. Instead of sticking to one study location, simply alternating the room where you’re studying can improve retention. As the study found, the human brain likes variety.
4. Go back to school supplies shopping.
One of the most fun parts of going back to school is going back to school shopping. Getting back to school supplies means getting fresh notebooks, pens, pencils and materials you need for the school year.
Make a list of what you need for the courses you are taking in your first semester. Often the teachers will prepare you with this information, but it is a good bet you will need the standards like paper, notebooks, pens and pencils and some form of calculator if you don’t have a device like a cellphone with a calculator. Regardless, making a list will help to ensure you buy the items you need and keep you on track and budget for the school year.
5. Prep your notebooks and refresh the items in your old notebooks.
One thing you can do to save money when back to school shopping is to check through any old notebooks and school materials you may have. This is something you may be able to do while reorganizing your desk space as we detailed in step 2 and 3, but reusing notebooks where you still have many pages left can be a great cost savings.
Take a look through your old notebooks and use the time to determine if you need to keep them or if there are any subjects you can go through and refresh on.
6. Create a planning system
We know that it’s difficult to stay focused at the end of the school year. The weather is nice and the summer is coming. Keeping focused at the end of the previous school year may not have been what was on your mind. That’s ok, we’re all human. With back to school being on the horizon, you’ll want to get yourself organized. In our past blog, Get Organized in 2020, we explored tips on how students can achieve their goals and be an effectively organized learner. These tips can be used at any time of the year, but looking to do this during key milestone dates like back to school can be more effective times to make a change.
Getting something like a day planner can help you get organized and provides a holistic view of a week, a month, or a few months. There are a number of day planners available and you can pick them up at your local office supply store or even dollar store. You can check out more tips for organization in our blog post.
7. Re-establish your sleep patterns.
One of the most challenging things about being a teenager is going back to a normal sleep schedule when the new school year begins. Back to school, means back to routine or being on a schedule. Research suggests that any lack of sleep has an impact on our ability to focus and pay attention. This makes it more difficult to retain and intake information.
The first week back at school can cause disruption from being in holiday mode so don’t forget healthy habits around sleep. Most people between the ages of 14 and 17, need at least eight to ten hours of sleep a night to function effectively, and about one hour per day of exercise to be healthy. Having a consistent bed time and wake-up time can help with this. Starting two weeks before the first day of school, start to change your sleep routine.
There are a number of easy ways to do this and many apps exist to help you set those parameters. For example, if you have an iPhone, try using the phone’s built in Bedtime App. This feature allows you to set a time you want to wake up (presuming you need to be at school at 9am, it should be a time that allows you to wake up, get dressed and ready for school and travel time). Once you set the wake up time, you can adjust the amount of hours you want to sleep (from 8-10 hours) and then you will know when you should go to bed. The app will send you reminders and automatically set an alarm to wake you up.
There are similar apps for Android devices as well.
8. Set a morning routine.
Similar to getting enough sleep, one really helpful way to prepare for the school year is to set a morning routine. There are a few things you can do to be prepared for an effective morning routine that will help you get back into the swing of things for back to school.
- Become a morning person! Studies have shown that morning people are often more productive than those who stay up late at night.
- Prepare the night before. Set aside the clothes you are going to wear and pack your bag for the next day in order to maximize your morning time for you.
- Exercise. Consider going for a run, or doing some yoga to start your day off. It will put you in a positive mindset and get your juices flowing.
- Eat breakfast. When you’ve been sleeping for 8 hours, it means your body hasn’t been getting nutrients in that time. Eating breakfast prepares your body and mind for the day and allows your brain to think about learning, not eating.
- Arrive early to school. Once the school year starts, try to get to school a little early so that you have the time to get in the headspace you need.
Learning online with OES.
One other way to get prepared for going back to school is to get a head start in your studies. Taking an online course with OES a few weeks ahead of the school year in September can get you a few weeks ahead of your home school’s classes and can give you the leg up on the school year.
OES is a purpose built online high school. Our instructors are experienced in teaching students online and our courses are structured in a clear and concise manner to make it easier for you to guide your learning. As an accredited Ontario online high school, we structure our courses per the Ontario Ministry of Education standards and break up our lessons into very intentional and digestible content that ensures our courses are consistent for all students and creates a positive and streamlined experience so you can earn Ontario high school credits online.
If you’re currently attending high school in Ontario, or if you’re looking for an adult high school in order to upgrade your marks as an international student, OES has a wide range of courses available. From SBI4U to MHF4U, the amazing teachers at OES are ready to support you and help you meet your goals all over the world.
The Ontario eSecondary School has been inspected and accredited by the Ontario Ministry of Education. What does this mean? As a virtual school, all of our courses are recognized by and can be used toward an Ontario Secondary School Diploma (OSSD) and are also recognized as part of your OUAC application. This makes OES a great partner for upgrading Ontario high school credits online and is also perfect for adult students or international students looking to earn credits for post-secondary.
Learn more about our courses at oeshighschool.com