BACK TO SCHOOL: How to Prepare Tweens & Teens
Kids are going back to school next week in Australia. While many are probably excited to experience their new grade for the first time, there will still be a lot of apprehension about new classes, new groups and new teachers.
Whether they are experiencing high school for the first time, or simply jumping from one grade to another, it is a big step — especially after such a long break!
This post covers resources, ideas, and tips to help with those New Year nerves. We hope to help make this experience smooth, fun, and exciting.
Create a Vision Board
Create a ‘vision board’ as a fun activity to set goals and stay accountable for the year ahead. This can include personal goals, sport achievements and education goals. These help to acknowledge and celebrate what has been achieved, and what is to be worked on.
Self Empowerment Ambassador, Revie Jane, has created a Free E-Book on how to create your own Vision Board and maximise productivity throughout the year.
It’s important to remember it is an important tool to revise throughout the year to keep you accountable. As Revie says, “creating a vision board isn’t simply compiling a random bunch of pretty images and sticking to a cork board. There is a specific process we should follow when putting this collage together.”
Set a Study Time
Set ‘study time’ from the start of term. Often this gets used when homework or assignments start piling up. Nailing a homework and study schedule from the start of term can help to manage time effectively. This time should be away from TV and social media where possible.
If possible, set a quiet dedicated place to work (not the bed or kitchen table ideally) where they know they won’t be disturbed by other factors inside the home. The phone app Forest helps avoid distractions. Using ‘Deep Focus’ mode means you can’t leave the app to check Facebook or other social media apps.
Similarly, using websites like Tomato Timer to allocate chunks of study time and break times. A Tomato Timer is a 25 minute timer website that helps allocate focus periods, allocate short breaks and long breaks. It can help keep students on track and increase productivity.
Identify Trusted Soundboards
Create a list of trusted people that the student can confide in if they are feeling overwhelmed when they are first back to school or during the school year. This list can be great to refer to when feeling stressed and not knowing who to talk to when feeling stressed.
Guidance counsellors, year level coordinators and teachers are great people to have on this list other than parents or guardians. This can be especially great to do if heading into a new school and the student is unsure of who to speak to.
Create a Back to School Calendar
Create a calendar with an assessment schedule as soon as due dates start appearing. Let this be accessible to the whole family. This allows everyone to see when stress levels may be heightened, and when the teen might need more down time. Secondary school affects the whole family’s timetable so having everyone aware of these busy periods is essential.
Online calendar sites include; Google Calendar, Outlook Calendar, and Trello Board. Physical weekly plans can be followed on a white board, a school planner or even Post-It notes on a wall!
Allow for rest and down time to recharge, this is incredibly important.
Consider that too much casual or part-time work can be too much and can add extra stress.
Declutter that Diary
Seth Pearler, Executive Function, ADHD & Education Coach, recommends ripping out all the extra pages of student planners upon going back to school (tables, rules, contacts, redundant hints and tips). These extra pages can be overwhelming for kids who face organisation struggles. It is visual clutter which can overwhelm students.
Practice mindfulness activities and meditation to help combat or deal with any anxiety that may arise during the term.
We have created a Calm Down Zone Activity, and a Growth Mindset Activity which may be useful when setting goals, and trying to de-stress.