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Starting the Year Strong

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Beginning a new year or semester can be daunting, especially for our students who need to balance academics with athletics and other extracurriculars. To ensure a successful start to a new semester, we’ve compiled a list of recommendations to help your student start the semester strong. 

1. Establish a routine before the school year begins. Long breaks from school are a great time to relax and enjoy time off after working hard during the year. However, transitioning back to school mode can be tricky if bad habits have developed during that time off. To avoid this, help your student get back into a routine at least a week or two before the semester begins. Encourage your student to go to bed on time and avoid sleeping in too much. Incorporate light academics, like reading for 15 minutes daily, to activate their brain. If they are heading into preseason conditioning, encourage them to work out on their own leading up to the start of team practices, gradually adding a few minutes every day to more easily transition into high-volume training.

2. Clean and repack your backpack (and sports bag). Leaving perishable items, equipment, dirty jerseys, or general clutter in bags over long breaks can lead to unpleasant surprises when it’s time to pack them again. We strongly recommend that your student clean out and wash their backpack and sports bag at the start of any break rather than at the end. This time is also an excellent opportunity to reorganize the bags and take stock of any gear your student may need, ranging from binders to new cleats. The night before that first day back, make sure all bags are fully packed and sitting by the front door so they’re ready to go the next morning.

3. Organize electronically. Electronic organization is often overlooked, but it’s essential for academic success. Before the new semester begins, encourage your student to organize their email, Google Drive, desktop, and even apps or notes on their phone. Archive old emails and files that should be kept (but aren’t needed right now), do an “unsubscribe audit” to declutter their current and future inbox, and create folders for every class in the upcoming semester. Put important due dates, practice and game times, and any extracurricular activities they participate in into one electronic calendar. Implementing these electronic organization strategies will make it easier to keep track of schedules, materials, and assignments throughout the year.

4. Review for the first day. Review your student’s academic and athletic schedules with them a few days before classes start so they know what to expect. Double-check that they have all the necessary books and school supplies ready. You can also help to reduce their stress by talking through the logistics of their first day back, like how they’re getting to school and practice, or what they can expect for lunch. Planning for the first day will help your student start the new semester with momentum.

5. Reflect on the previous semester. Encourage your student to take some time and reflect on their last semester. Identify the habits and routines that worked well for them and celebrate those successes. Also, work with them to acknowledge the areas where they faced challenges and collaborate on ways to help them improve this semester.

6. Discuss their routines and goals. Use their past experiences to create a plan for the upcoming semester. Consider adjusting morning, night, and homework routines to accommodate your student’s commitments and academic responsibilities. Set SMART goals: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-based objectives. Write down these goals and post them somewhere visible as a reminder of what they are striving to achieve. Help them regularly check their progress and seek support from teachers, coaches, and family members to help them reach these goals.

By following these recommendations, you can lay the foundation for a smooth and successful start to the semester. Establishing routines, staying organized, reflecting on past experiences, and setting goals will help your student excel academically while confidently pursuing their goals.