Back To School: Tips And Tricks
As a recent high school graduate, I know just how tough the school year can be on everyone. Teachers, students, and parents all have their struggles as the impending grades, test scores, projects, and the end-goal of graduation come closer. School is not easy for anyone, especially there is conflict involved.
My tips and tricks are mainly for students, seeing as I am a former one, but there are a few I have for parents as well!
If you have any other tips, especially for teachers, feel free to comment some below.
The number one way to fix nearly every problem is to communicate! Whether it is in person, text, email, phone, pigeon, or letter, talking about your thoughts and feelings brings not only a solution, but you aren't staring at the ceiling late at night wondering what Mary meant on Tuesday morning. This is especially true with school.
Never be afraid to talk to your teacher. Believe me, I am pretty stubborn (and shy) when it comes to asking for help on anything in class. Unless I'm either 100% comfortable with the teacher or so confused I can't continue without help, I tend to keep my distance and puzzle over whatever it is in silence. DO NOT DO THIS. Your teachers are there to help you.That is their job (no it is not torturing you for an hour or more every day). Don't be afraid to come after school, email them when you get home, or come in early the next day for help. You won't regret this and it will make both of your lives easier.
As our plates begin filling up with homework, projects, tests, and lectures, we can tuck ourselves away from your eye and the lack of communication can cause stress, tension in the relationship, and screaming matches over lame stuff. As a student who didn't really talk about school with my parents, I highly recommend that you try and chat about it with your child. No matter how old (or how much they claim to not want to), talking with your child about their day can strengthen your relationship with them as well as give you an understanding of what they are thinking. Do not let them go with a "school was fine."
Use The Tools!
If there is one thing I was always told, but never really followed, it was to use the tools the school provides for you. Looking back, I can see how much it would have helped me if I had used my agenda more often, or actually used the online books. Like I said before, I was pretty stubborn (and admittedly, kind of lazy).
Of all the twelve years I spent in school, I only used my agenda a handful of times. Take it from me kids; using your agenda will be the smartest move you ever make. For starters, it keeps you from forgetting what pages you were supposed to read or what the writing assignment was. One of my biggest problems (and the constant subject of arguments with my dad) was that I am very forgetful. I get distracted and then forget what I was supposed to be doing. If you are anything like me, that agenda will be the greatest asset in succeeding in school...and avoiding arguments with your parents.
Many schools have ways for parents to get involved with their student in order to succeed. If your child won't tell you (that was definitely me) find the school's website or even take a drive on over and ask what there is for you as the parent.
One of my schools emailed progress reports home every two weeks. Definitely some of the most stressful years of my life. Another one of my schools offered parents a way to look into student assignments, grades, and performance online. It all depends on the school.
It can be so frustrating doing something all on your own. Students know it, parents know it, and teachers know it. Yet somehow, that's exactly what happens when it comes to school. Students and parents alike think in order for the child to learn how to do the assignment is for them to work it out on their own. Teachers don't encourage this at all, so why is this such a common assumption?
Do not be afraid/proud/ashamed to ask your parent for help or just about the assignment in general. I have had a few discussions with my dad over school assignments that were actually pleasant. It is not cheating to ask your parent a question about homework, especially if it's something they specialize in. Let them in. You will be happier you did.
Look for signs your child is struggling with homework. There are so many times I would sit at our wood dining table confused out of my mind and no one would ask me about it. Even if you really don't understand Algebra or know anything about Shakespeare, sometimes simply talking about it can help significantly. Having to tell someone about the basics can also be a huge help because you can get lost mid problem or sentence. Stripping it back can be beneficial for your child (and you might learn a thing or two).
Staying Motivated Tip
Staying motivated is one of the hardest things I have ever come across. Whether it is fitness, school, or even these articles, I have a hard time finding it within myself to just keep going. Sometimes not doing anything is so much easier for my psyche....until I realize I am getting nothing done and turning into a slob. Not a good look on anyone!
My tip for staying motivated in school is to have friends who are incredibly motivated (or at least willing to try with you). Check in on each other always, take breaks any way you can, and always keep your goal in the forefront of your mind. Even if it literally has to be in front of your eyes when you wake up and go to sleep.
I also listen to music to stay focused on tasks.
Stay Positive, Stay Motivated, And Stay Attentive
This is something I struggle with pretty much all the time. I get sidetracked, I get frustrated with everything, and then I just lose interest in whatever it was I was doing or going to do. This needs to be your fuel for the day, your goal for yourself during the day, and your mantra for when life gets tough. I have learned how having a positive outlook verses a negative one can really lift your mood, make people easier to deal with throughout the day, and tasks easier to do.
It is easy to be positive at the beginning of the school year. Classes are easy and your past friendships are still intact. What happens though, when December rolls around, the need to get out of that stuffy building sets in, the holiday assignments are rolling in, your parents are stressed out of their mind and taking it out on you, and on top of it all, your best friend decides they would rather hang out with that girl you thought you both could not stand? Staying positive and looking forward can be harder.
As cliche as it sounds, talking about a tough situation or your true feelings with someone you trust can really save you so much trouble and frustration. I have found it pretty hard to talk to my parents, but my best friends and my younger sister can both commiserate with me and share their own struggles. This also makes staying positive much easier (as well as surrounding yourself with positive people to begin with).
Probably did not think I had any tips for you, did you? As an adult it is even harder to stay positive. At nineteen, I have realized the stresses of adulthood are completely different to those of my high school days (not that this makes the stresses a teen or young child go through any less legitimate).
There are more people counting on you, bills pile up quite quickly, and work does not help at all. Everything seems dismal. TALK TO SOMEONE. Having someone to chat with about your day can make things easier for you. Grab that friend that can always make you laugh and just leave the office for an hour. It's easier to be positive when you are smiling and laughing.
Being Positive With Your Child & School
Just remember grades are not the most important thing. Just because Suzie does not have that 4.0 GPA and can not get into Harvard does not mean she is a bad student. If she is getting bad grades due to not completing assignments (my problem!) PLEASE DO NOT YELL AT HER. The only thing this accomplishes is you both being angry and frustrated with each other. Remind her of why completing the assignment is important for the class (not grades/college/career/future) and that if she needs help you will be there for her. Keep that channel of communication open.
Staying Attentive Tip
Staying attentive in class, at home, and with friends can be a huge challenge for some people. Social media is a huge problem with kids these days. I know many times I would find myself with a pencil in hands, assignment on the table, scrolling through Twitter or YouTube.
Whenever I was serious about getting my work done, I shut it all off. If the assignment required the internet, I turned on music and buried into my assignment, not even letting myself a minute to think of anything else. As long as your mind can't wander, you will stay on task and ready to get work done.
Parents (Part II)
Staying motivated when your plate is so full is incredibly hard. I have recently gone through a patch of just....laziness. I was frustrated and tired every day I woke up. Some days, we all want to just throw in the towel and watch Netflix. I get it. What I do is let my body have what it needs. Get proper food, sleep, and water. Exercise often. Play a few mindless games to get the stress off your brain for a few minutes. I listen to music while I do mundane tasks. Anything to lift your mood will help with motivation!
Staying Motivated With a "Difficult" child
YOU CAN NOT FORCE YOUR CHILD TO BE MOTIVATED.
My dad would try anything to "motivate" me to stay focused on school. Let me tell you now...nothing works. The best thing you can do is just be there for them. Let them know that you'll always be there for them and if they need help, you won't judge them.
The teen years are especially hard. With so much going on at once, and so many hormonal changes, keeping motivated is really hard. We lose focus, we get distracted easily, and we get bored with school. We'd much rather be hanging out with our friends than writing that essay due in a week.
Advice is ALWAYS appreciated by-the-way.
Parents (part II)
Finally, be attentive to your child. Look for signs of frustration, depression, or stress. If they shut you out, don't give up. Share parts of your day with them. Being open and honest with them allows them to feel more comfortable with you.
Of course, you are their parent before you are their friend, but that doesn't mean you have to be mom or dad about school all the time. Find a balance and things will be easier.
Do Something Fun/Relaxing
Nothing beats a tough day at school like just kicking back and relaxing your overworked brain. Teachers always say, "go home and do your homework right away so you don't forget to do it". I tried that and it never worked out. I would be so sleepy I couldn't focus. So instead of hitting the books right away, try a few of these. Maybe ask a friend to join or even a parent if you want!
1. Take a walk
2. Ride a bike
3. Go to a local playground
4. Take a drive to your favorite place
5. Play a quick game of basketball
6. Take some selfies with friends
7. Listen to music and dance around
8. Take a warm shower/bath
9. Fly a kite
10. Draw a picture
There are plenty of things to do to unwind besides turning on the television and letting your brain melt.
Also, I do not recommend napping after school. I did that many times and I always woke up groggy and tired.
I hope these tips help you not only succeed in school this year, but also have a better relationship with those around you. These are all lessons I have learned from my failures and successes in my years in school. Take the time to understand you aren't the only one struggling.
Take a deep breath. Close your eyes.
I wish you all the best!
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© 2016 Caitlyn Booth
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