Starting a New School Year

Kids sitting at a desk in a classroom looking at the teacher.

Jumping back into school after a long, relaxing summer can be challenging. Adjusting after a 2-3 month break from school is hard for all students, but it’s especially tough for students with executive functioning challenges. To make this transition easier for our parents and students, here are some recommendations to start the school year powerfully.

1. Establish your routines a week before the break ends:

We expect our students to unwind at the beginning of the summer and recover from the stress of finals. After a semester often filled with late nights and intense study sessions, relaxation is well deserved. However, during those first few weeks, habits can form and stay throughout the summer, making the adjustment back to school more difficult. We recommend that 3-7 days before school begins, students get back into bedtime and morning routines to prepare for that first week back. Additionally, adding a light load of academics back into the equation can be useful, like fifteen minutes of reading or writing a day to reactivate the brain. These small shifts will help support a smooth transition back to school.

2. Clean/Repack Backpack

Make sure your student is starting the semester with a clean, prepared backpack! Wash, organize and repack it. The backpack should be left by the door the night before school begins again.

3. Organize Electronically

Taking the time to organize your student’s Google Drive, computer/iPad, and cell phones before the semester sets them up for success. Most students need guidance on how to organize electronically, specifically with filing old assignments away. In addition to organizing previous work, make sure that new folders are created for your student’s upcoming classes.

4. Reflect on the Previous Semester

Talk to your student about successes and areas of improvement based on last year. What worked? What didn’t? Make a game plan to continue the good habits and routines, and steer away from the ones that weren’t effective. Set goals that don’t necessarily revolve around a final GPA. For example, if your student struggles to turn assignments in on time: I will stay on top of missing assignments and will go to office hours for my hardest classes at least once a week.

5. Look at New Course Schedule

Some of our students show up on the first day not knowing exactly how their schedule looks. To prevent them from being late to any classes, assess your student’s schedule before the first day. Note the classroom location and the teacher. (This is especially important for middle school students.)

7. Discuss Routines for the Upcoming Semester

Using what your student learned last year, create a plan with them for the upcoming semester. The plan should ideally include the morning, night, and homework routines needed to be successful. Other considerations for the plan are weekly teacher study sessions to attend, extra-curricular commitments, and leisure time. Write these routines down and make sure to post them in a visible place throughout the semester. Consistent reminders are needed for success!

(Night Before) First Day Checklist:

– Establish routines and expectations

– Review schedule

– Lay out first day of school outfit

– Set up backpack next to the door, ready to go

You’re ready to roll. Good luck this semester!

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