The beginning of the school year is always an exciting time.  Starting a new grade or moving to a new school may carry with it some degree of anxiety, but it also is an opportunity to start fresh.  Sitting down and putting goals for the new year in writing can be an empowering way to prepare for the upcoming year.

The first thing you may want to do is think back to last school year, contemplating what went well and what went wrong.  What are some things you wished you had done better?  What traits do you see in your friends, teachers, or family that you would like to emulate or avoid?  Next, think about your long-term goals and what you need to do to reach them.  Then focus on this year and what decisions you need to make to reach those goals.

Regarding schoolwork, goals may include going to class every day and taking it seriously.  Concentrating on what is being taught will help you understand it.  Don’t be afraid to ask questions, either during class or privately with your teacher.  Getting to know your teacher will help you and will demonstrate to them that you are interested and care.  Doing your homework is critical; homework is not punishment, it is a way to reinforce what you are learning in class and to prepare for tests.  Stay off your phone while in class and while doing homework, as it will only serve as a distraction.  Check it as a study break to reward you for completing a task.

Organization and time management are critical to your success.  Think about your schedule and block out specific times for homework.  Cut big projects into smaller blocks so they are not so overwhelming, and so you can keep up and don’t have to cram the night before.  Ensure you get everything done early enough to get to bed on time.  Get in the habit of making checklists so you can add tasks as they come and gain the satisfaction of marking them off as they are completed.

Socially, make a conscious decision to reach out to others and be nice.  It is amazing what a smile on your face will do to draw people to you.  Don’t be afraid to make eye contact and be the first to say “Hi”.  Be positive and uplifting.  Reach out to others who seem to be alone.  Try to remember people’s names.  Ask people questions about themselves and talk about yourself less.  Limit your time on social media and instead be social.  Explore and try new things.  Look for ways to volunteer and give back to the community.  It’s amazing how helping others ends up making your life better.

Most of all, keep a good attitude.  We cannot control many of the things or people around us, but we do have control over how we respond to them.  Good attitude, good life; bad attitude, bad life.  It’s that simple.  Setting goals, staying organized, reaching out to others, and maintaining a good attitude will help ensure you have a great school year!

Jeff Glass, M.D., FAAP

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