By Vejay Steede
Getting back to school can be stressful. Stress typically intensifies if preparedness is not where it should be. The best thing about “back to school” stress is that we always have time to prepare for the quite significant life change that immersing oneself in the full-time academy routine entails.
It is, therefore, vitally important to be prepared; physically, emotionally, materially, and socially. Student Services Officer, Mr Harris, espouses the benefits of putting health first when setting off on the annual back to school sojourn.
“If one has embarked on living a healthy lifestyle they should continue. If they currently do not, then they should consider and explore the benefits. Two crucial pieces of this are diet and sleep.”
Focusing mainly on the high school experience, Mr Harris advises further: “Set goals and challenge yourself. This can be from an academic standpoint or social, for example: academically – set a GPA in a specific subject as well as overall; socially – attempt to make new friends. Participate in extracurricular activities!”
Student Services is a department that values relationships highly, and Mr Harris expresses that point here: “Seek assistance, and for relationships with your teachers. If you don’t understand something, ask questions. Student Services is a resource to seek if one is having a not so good day. ETs and counsellors are there to assist.”
Parental support and enjoyment are also important: “When faced with a hurdle, let your parents know if you can’t figure it out. Have fun and enjoy yourself!”
Of course, it’s also very important to have the supplies necessary to competently navigate the first few weeks of school. Notepads, pens and pencils, measuring equipment, essential technology (laptop, tablet, calculator, etc.) are all standard tools for the trek, but intangibles must also be packed in your adventure rucksack.
Mr Harris advises: “Expect the unexpected and embrace new knowledge. You will need a level of self-confidence as you develop into and become independent citizens. Have a water bottle and hydrate; again, participating in a healthy lifestyle.”
Preparedness for elementary school students is normally a joint endeavour between student and parent. Necessary supplies can readily be found at local retailers like the Phoenix Centres and other pharmacies, The Stationary Store, AF Smith, and even the various bulk stores and supermarkets.
Also, there are some unique enrichment tools for parents to purchase at Al-Mil Enterprises on Town Hill, Smith’s.
A very important feature of primary school preparedness for parents is communicating with their child’s new teacher to find out what supplies will be absolutely required, especially with all the COVID-19 restrictions still active. Supplies like disinfectant wipes, alcohol-based hand sanitizer, paper towels, and tissues may be just as urgently needed as pencils and pens in times like these.
Perhaps the most vital resource necessary for elementary preparedness is support. Developing a strong, support focused rapport with your child’s new teacher, and encouraging your child to do the same, can go a long way toward meeting with success and progressing through this new year level.
The transition from high school to university or college is also heavily dependent on parental support. Many new college students experience anxiety and overwhelming stress during their first few weeks at university. An immediate understanding of why the Lisa Bonet led “Cosby Show” spin-off was called “A Different World” develops in new college students in no time at all. It’s quite an eye-opening experience indeed.
Educational Therapist and college student parent, Ms Basden, offers some great insight and advice to students engaged in this ‘back to school’ tier.
“Approach your new year with an open, positive mind. Organization is key. Having a glance at your syllabus will allow you to feel a sense of connection before you attend classes. Prepare yourself to meet people who are not quite like you. Regarding patience, simply ‘Add to Cart.’ Google a few strategies to deal with conflict as they will inevitably arise. Better yet, network with positive people who are attending, or who have attended university who can offer coping strategies when deadlines swiftly approach.”
The theme of health is again emphasized here, with a special nod toward mental and emotional health, which are becoming refreshingly more important in the zeitgeist.
“Prepare to take part in activities that will foster your mental health. Start each day reviewing your gratitude list and participating in preferred self-work exercises. Commitment to this regime will maintain a positive outlook. When balanced with your social life and academics, these ingredients will be key.”
At this level of human development, understanding oneself becomes more important than it ever was previously. Self-love and self-awareness are vital for healthy social connections and generally figuring out one’s place in the world at this level.
Indeed, the purpose of education should always be, primarily, self-actualization, and university is where the super-ego ‘becomes.’ Ms Basden continues, with a special mention of personalized tools for learning the best ‘you.’
“Be sure to select learning tools and equipment that speak to your personality and learning style. For example, if bright colours allow you to feel alert, choose items and decor that create a whimsical living space. Create the opposite effect with greys and soft tones. Remember, your individuality needs to be counted as you embark upon your next chapter.”
Finally, making good choices is an extremely important part of the school experience, regardless of educational level. Choices like sleeping in, snacking freely, going swimming, riding your bike, or playing with your friends are no longer openly available when you go back to school. This can be a drag, but school is a necessary part of modern human development, so being mindful of the available choices and making the best choices more often than not is definitely a practice worth employing extensively.
On the importance of choices at the tertiary education level, Ms Basden closes with: “Yes, it’s a big step; however, it can be one of the most important steps on your journey. Lifelong friends are often discovered in university. Some of your biggest challenges may come during these significant years as well. The important thing to remember is the power of choice. The outcome of each day will be determined by the choices you make.”