The secret to student success starts in the first days and weeks of the school year.
Getting an early start on establishing positive habits can take a so-so school year and bump it up to the next level. The five habits listed below tackle some of the most common issues students face early in the school year and can be mastered with just a little time and practice.
Get a good night’s sleep. Teenagers need at least eight to 10 hours of sleep each night. The Centers for Disease Control report that 2 out of 3 high schoolers don’t get enough sleep due to changes from puberty. The CDC study showed lack of sleep negatively affects school performance and can also lead to obesity, depression, drug, alcohol and tobacco use. Try to get students to bed around the same time each night and limit sleeping in on the weekends. Consistency helps students establish healthier sleep patterns.
Write assignments down. Students like to think they can remember assignments given to them by their teachers. Not exactly the most reliable way to keep track of homework. Many schools provide an assignment book or homework planner. A student notebook works just as well or for the more tech-savvy student, their smartphone. Make sure students use it! If the teacher writes it on the board, then it goes in the planner. Parents, ask the right question about homework. Instead of saying “Do you have homework?” ask “What do you have for homework?” That requires more than a “yes” or “no” answer. Homework contracts can help students who struggle with this. Students need help staying on top of assignments and proactive parents can prevent homework disasters later in the year.
Establish homework routines. Friends, after school activities and jobs can make finishing homework a challenge for students. However, these obstacles are exactly the reason why a daily routine is needed. Whether a student starts it in study hall, works at a desk at home right after school or sits on a bed after work to get it done really doesn’t matter. Try to keep it consistent so that the student doesn’t have to wonder where and when the work is going to get done. Again, consistency is the key to success.
Communicate with teachers. Good advice for both parents and students. Take advantage of orientation or open house to talk with teachers about their expectations, the classwork and even student strengths and challenges. Many teachers provide email addresses for parents and students to use to ask questions. This is an easy way to keep in touch and build a positive relationship with teachers, which they want to help their students be successful. Building that relationship can help when things may get challenging down the road.
Get help early. Sometimes schoolwork gets to be too much for students. It may be the amount of work or the assignments’ difficulty. Many students can feel overwhelmed early in the year, but don’t say anything because they are afraid or ashamed. This is the worst thing a student can do, since the longer this slide goes on, the harder it is to climb out of the hole. Grades drop quickly with just a few missing assignments. If parents or students notice frequent homework issues, then it’s time to talk to the teacher to see if tutors are available, extra help sessions offered or the homework can be scaled back a little. When parents or students genuinely reach out, most teachers happily offer to help the student get through a rough patch.
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