Back to School Tips

On TV, the first day of school usually shows students in crisp new clothes, clutching unblemished books next to blindingly shiny lockers. But in the real world…well, is anyone ever that chipper at seven in the morning with 30 pounds of books on their back? You may need to put some effort into getting back into the groove of school after a summer of being on your own schedule. We asked Joe DiMartino of the Center for Secondary School Redesign, for some ideas on how to ease your way back to school.

  • Get your class schedule ASAP. You know those dreams where you can’t find your homeroom? Somewhere in this world, some kid is living that nightmare, and you don’t want that to be you. If you haven’t gotten it in the mail yet, call the school. If you can get it online, print it out. “You might have already gotten it in the spring, but schedules change so it makes sense to make sure you have an updated version,” DiMartino says.
  • Pick up some basic school supplies before school starts. And, during the first few days of school, get a sense of what would work best for each particular class. Does your math class require a graphing calculator? Can you bring a thesaurus into English Lit? Ask the teacher what kind of notebook or other supplies she would recommend—it’s never too early to start earning brownie points. And by going with your friends after school to stock up, you can get the lowdown on summer gossip all at once.
  • Read a book you choose. Spend some time during those first few days of school reading a good book—something you choose. Flipping through a non-required novel can help you transition back into the habit of reading. Says DiMartino: “Use the rest of the time before school starts to do some fun reading just so you can get back into the groove and re-remember that reading can be really pleasurable.”
  • Reset your sleep clock. Summertime is a great time to get more sleep than you do during the school year, but as the first week of school approaches, you might want to start waking up a little earlier. “Try setting your alarm clock a little earlier than you normally do in order to start adjusting your sleeping habits,” says DiMartino. Other tips to make the morning routine smoother: Figure out a shower schedule (so you and your siblings don’t waste precious minutes arguing over water rights) and get an alarm clock that doesn’t allow you the option to hit snooze 10 times before getting up. After school, try to get some extra sleep during the first week —you’re getting a lot of information during those first few days and your brain needs rest to process it all. That’s right: We hereby give you permission to nap.
  • Find your bearings. If you’re starting at a new school, make an effort to drag yourself there a little early on the first day in order to familiarize yourself before the place is mobbed with other kids. Says DiMartino: “Take the opportunity to walk around a bit and see what it’s like. You can even call the school and see whether you can check it out a day or two before hand. Where’s your locker? Where’s your homeroom? Figuring out that stuff sooner rather than later can help you avoid needless anxiety.”

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