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Back-to-School Tips for The Best Year Yet!

Posted on 09/10/2018, by Dr. Ellen Fithian to Parents of 7th and 8th Graders, Parents of 9th Graders, Parents of 10th Graders, Parents of 11th Graders, Parents of 12th Graders (0 comments)

Few days elicit such vivid memories for me as the first day of school; catching up with friends I hadn't seen all summer as a child and later, as a mom, savoring that first cup of coffee after all my kids had gone. Most of all, however, back-to-school evokes images of a fresh beginning; newly sharpened pencils with virgin erasers and brand-new, unblemished notebooks. Each new year represents a rebirth, a chance to do it right this time. With that goal in mind, take a few minutes to share my annual back-to-school tips with your teen to help him or her make this year the best one yet.

1.  Get organized.

Start the year off right by using a three-ring binder for each class. Use dividers to create separate sections for class notes, homework, returned quizzes, tests, and spare paper.  Then, as homework papers, quizzes, and tests are returned, place them in the correct section of the binder rather than stuffing them haphazardly into your bookbag. This will make studying for tests a whole lot easier!

Second, get in the habit of using a planner; bring it to every class and write down assignments as they’re given. Use an electronic calendar on a computer or smart phone to keep track of due dates and send you reminders.

2. Bank some good grades early in the semester.

As a general rule, courses get harder as they progress. Take advantage of this to bank some good grades on early assignments rather than using the first few weeks of school to try to prolong your summer vacation. These early grades could go a long way toward cushioning the impact of a few killer exams later in the year.

3. Keep up with your work.

Get help early for any course material you're struggling with, especially in sequential subjects like math and foreign language.  If you don’t understand the math topics taught this week, it’s a good bet you won’t understand the topics that build on it next week.  Seek out your teacher for extra help after school, ask a parent for assistance or get a tutor before you’ve missed half the semester.

4. Be a good citizen of each class.

Few students need to be told that it’s bad form to sit in the back of the room with a gang of friends, talking out loud. What many students don’t appreciate, however, is that sitting at the back of the room silently and never raising your hand also falls short of ideal classroom citizenship.  A teacher can only do so much to make a class enjoyable;  in order for it to truly come alive students need to ask and answer questions. Furthermore, when the time comes to ask your teachers for college recommendations, you’ll want them to be able to say that you were an asset to the class.

5. Set high goals.

One of the frustrating things about school is that after a certain point in the semester, it can be very difficult to change your grade.  If you’re heading into the fourth quarter with a low C, it isn't easy to bring your year long grade up to a B, but a new year brings a clean slate. So even if you got a C in history last year, there’s no reason not to aspire for an A this year. It’s a brand new year—make it a great one!

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Posted on 09/10/2018, by Dr. Ellen Fithian (0 comments)




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