Key areas for students to focus on with a new school year

This blog was originally written a few years ago and on reflection just now with students going back to school in 2024 everything is still very much applicable. 

In our experience here are the key areas that students need to make sure they focus on with a new school year.Organising Students - Image in circle with the words Learning to study smarter not harder

As we often say at this time of year most students set out with the desire to do the best they can.  These tips & strategies we include below are to assist them with the start of the school year and set them up for success!  Remember the key is all about studying smarter not harder!

Think about this quote from James, one of our students, – ‘I have habits I need to get out of & habits I need to get into‘ – what skill or skills do they as a student need to focus on in order to get better with to assist with their school life?  It could be good to ask them this question and see what they say!

These are our key observations for students to focus on as soon as possible:

  • Planning Tool/s – it is vital that students work out what planning tool/s they are going to use to manage their time and tasks.  First and foremost in order to manage time they need to see time and these are what planning tools assist with.  We don’t care what a student uses but make sure they use something and leave their memory for their learning.  It could be sticky notes on a desk top to record materials in class, a paper diary, a wall planner/calendar (we have produced several reusable student planners), an electronic calendar (google calendar is one of our favourites) or even one of the many Apps these days.
  • Organising Students - girl student speaking to a teacherBeing a good self advocate – many students are unsure of what this means and basically it refers to seeking help whenever they need it!  If they are not comfortable to do this in the classroom they can always email their teacher instead or make a time to see them.  As it is the start of the year it is also an opportunity to get to know their teachers.  They don’t have to be a students best friend but they do need to be in a position to build a good working relationship with them – remember they are there to help and support despite what a student might think sometimes!
  • Organising Students - Notetaking - Outline method - example of notesNote taking – many students took very little or virtually no notes at all during online or remote learning.  Only last week one of our Year 11 students who was completing a Year 12 subject last year told Amanda that he hardly took any notes only to find himself having to take notes and learn all the content again prior to his exam.  Therefore it is important to ensure students get back into the habit of taking notes and not just relying on worksheets, workbooks or textbooks for their notes.  They need to have notes that mean something to them!
  • Staying on top of their work – The key is to start on top and try to stay on top.  It is much easier if a student can do this than having to play catch up which will also cause stress, anxiety and overwhelm.  Now we know this isn’t always possible but the key is to for students to get themselves out of this situation if it happens and catch up as best they can when they can ie weekends, school holidays etc.
  • Organising Students - image of cue cardsCreating study tools as they go – why not be smart about it and create study tools as they learn new things and keep adding to them throughout the year.  That way come exam time they already have revision tools and can spend more time on exam questions and ensuring they know what they need to.
  • Spare periods – when students move into the senior years they often start being given spare periods.  We know it is tempting but these are not periods to just hang out and catch up with their mates.  They should use these to their advantage to get work done which will mean less that they need to do at home.  It can also be useful to find out what teachers are not teaching during these times so they can potentially catch up with them as needed.
  • Motivation – this was a real challenge with remote learning for many students which was only natural – the key here is not to wait to you feel motivated but to take action and make a start.  For more tips on motivation & focus click here.

We encourage students to think about not only these tips & strategies but others they might want to work on to become regular habits during the school year.  All the very best and really at the end of the day it is up to them to put in the time, effort and focus – tell them they can do this!

For further details on how we can help support a student on their academic journey please get in touch.