10 Things Students (& Parents) Can Do to Start the School Year Off Right

by Dahlia Miller
September 200

School Supplies

  • Buy supplies you like and that will inspire you to be creative with your studying.

Building Good Relationships with Your Teachers

  • Introduce yourself to your teacher or just place a big red apple on your teacher’s desk with a smile.
  • Work with your teacher: have a positive attitude; participate in class; get down to work when it is given; ask if you have a question.
  • Help to make learning easier in your class: attend all your classes; be prepared (with pens, paper, calculator, etc.); pay attention; don’t distract others; take notes; do your homework.


  • If you’ll take 5-15 minutes to set goals for the up-coming year, you’ll improve your focus 5-15%.
  • Think back about last year and look at what you want to improve.
  • Consider what is important to you – why are you studying?
  • Effective Goals Are:
    • Specific (what exactly do you want?)
    • Achievable (don’t psyche yourself out before you even start)
    • Short-term (long term goals are good, but short-term goals build success and are easier to reach).

Study Space

  • Study without distractions – somewhere where you won’t be interrupted or in a quiet place where you can’t hear the TV. Some people work better with a little bit of noise, but most need silence and no distractions.
  • Remember the bed is for sleeping, not studying.


  • Set a specific time of day each day to do homework – decide to do the work and get it done – then the rest of the day is homework-free.
  • Prioritize homework – by due date and level of difficulty. In general, work on tomorrow’s homework first, and do the most difficult first.
  • Break bigger projects or exam study into smaller, more manageable steps.


  • Put a name, date and title on all your work so that you know the order to put things into your binder.
  • Create a system that you will use to carry homework and completed work to and from school.
  • Unclutter your space, unclutter your mind – don’t use up your energy having to dig for what you want every time – keep your backpack, locker, and desk free from garbage and recycling.
  • Keep all of your notes and assignments for one subject in one area: in a separate duotang, binder, or section in a binder. Use dividers to separate your notes into sub-topics, if it’s appropriate.
  • Super keen high school students: put a “Table of Contents” at the start of your binders to track topics for exams.


  • You don’t have to be the biggest, the best or the brightest to have self-confidence. You just have to believe that you are capable of doing your best.
  • Give yourself a pat on the back every time you sit down to start working.
  • With a strong belief in your ability to do your best, you can open yourself to new ideas.
  • Make encouraging notes or posters for yourself and put them up in your workspace and locker.
  • Look for your successes – celebrate small tasks right away with small rewards (a high five, a pat on the back, a chicken dance). Be a cheerleader for yourself!

Time Management

  • Time management = Energy management. Pay attention to what you are doing – if you are distracted, take a break or re-focus.
  • If you don’t have a calendar or day-planner, get one. Mark in up-coming assignments so you know how to organize your time. Post a calendar by your study space and keep it up to date so your parents can see that you are in control.
  • Review your assignments regularly to be sure you know your homework priorities.
  • Set a plan for when to study – what time of day do you study best?
  • Spend 10 minutes reviewing your class notes daily and you’ll be in a much, much better position come test time. Brains like constant review.
  • Work for short periods of time (30-60 minutes depending on you and the topic) and take short breaks. Brains remember beginnings and endings best, so incorporating more beginnings and endings into your study time will help you to remember more.
  • Keep a schedule that allows harmony between work and play time. Our mind is a tool, like a saw, if our mind is constantly in use, it grows dull.


  • Take responsibility when you need help by asking for it.
  • Exercise, eat good food, drink lots of water.
  • Get involved with friends, sports, interest groups, music, community.


  • If you are bored studying…change what you are doing. How can you make it more fun?
  • Study according to your learning style: draw pictures or make up stories in your mind if you’re a visual learner; make up rhymes or teach someone if you’re an auditory learner; stand up and move or squeeze a stress ball while studying if you’re kinesthetic.


  • Be flexible and encourage independence.
  • Ask your children questions about the upcoming year (and just listen as they talk): What are their goals? Do they have any concerns about school? What are they enjoying studying these days?
  • Let your child have some freedom around deciding the logistics of where, when and how they do their homework.
  • To help your child get organized at school, find the answers to these questions (by asking your child): How many subjects per day does your child study? How are handouts/assignments expected to be sorted? Where does your child store his/her materials between classes (i.e. in a desk or locker)? Is there a system used by the school or individual teachers to track homework and assignments? What is it?
  • Encourage your child to keep a positive attitude. Notice when your child is putting effort in and comment on it. Cheer your kids on – if you are fighting over homework, step back.
  • Be informed about what’s going on in school. Ask your kids about their homework. At the grade 4 level and above, students will usually have homework every night. Ask your child how they would like you to support them in getting their work done.
  • Stop yourself from interfering and trying to help – even if you see that your child is doing something wrong; unless you’re asked, stay out of it.
  • When your child asks for help try to have them bring you up to speed – give them the opportunity to teach you.
  • Praise and reward efforts appropriately and often. Avoid criticizing and nagging.
  • Remember that education isn’t a contest or a race; it’s a process that each child experiences differently.

“There is only one thing more painful than learning from experience and that is not learning from experience.”
Archibald McLeish (American poet)