The most restless night of the year for me has always been the one before the school opened after summer vacation. Even with the preparations done on time, the uniform hanging neatly and shoes polished spotlessly, I would toss and turn in the bed, keep looking at the clock and finally drift off to sleep just a couple of hours before wakeup time.
The excitement, nervousness and anxiety that come with going back to school are inevitable for both students and their parents. And it takes a few days, sometimes weeks for things to get to normal. Everyone has their own ways of getting over this anxious time and there are so many things that people do in order to make easy the transition from the lazy, undisciplined and unstructured vacation days to the routine and rigour of school days.
Smart people always make some preparations beforehand when they know any change is coming. And for a change as big as from sleeping all day and staying up all night playing games to going to school early morning and to bed early at night, you need to take some major steps to condition yourself for this change and much more.
Like we have done before in these pages, we will look at some things everyone facing this back-to-school situation needs to do to start the school year at the right pace and mood. There isn’t any rocket science in the steps I am going to discuss, you all know them and have probably started to implement them, but it is always good to go though them again.
Establish a morning routine
Estimate the time you will need on school mornings to drag yourself out of the bed, make the trip to the washroom, get dress, have your breakfast, etc.
Be very truthful in this — if you like to turn the alarm to snooze and sleep for five more minutes, consider that time in your calculations. Then leave a few minutes extra for the unexpected, such as spilling something on your uniform and needing to change it.
This way you will know when to wake up and so can set the alarm or tell your mother to wake you up accordingly.
Set goals for the year ahead
This is a new start for you, even if you started your new class before summer vacation. A new school session is like a new chapter in life and you have to set out some short-term and some long-terms goals to achieve.
Obviously, improving one’s marks and grades, doing homework on time, making new friends are some of the more common plans that we all make. But you must have something more specific set out for you to do, for instance, tell yourself that you will work hard to make sure you are in the school football team. Or that you will take part in the annual debate competition and so will start practicing public speaking from now by standing up in the class and answering questions, etc.
Therefore, setting goals is vital for making good progress in anything. Unless you have a defined destination to move towards, you will not make proper efforts to move in the required direction and can easily become distracted from reaching it.
Make a list of your goals, put it up at a place where you can see it easily, or write it down in a notebook you use often, so that you keep checking back to see how far you have progressed. You can always keep adding more goals as the year progresses as new ideas and opportunities will surely come up.
And you can also change a goal if you are not wholeheartedly convinced about it but make sure to replace it with something worth achieving.
Set some rules
You should take responsibility for your own actions and not just depend on your parents to always lay the rules and keep checking on you. Only you can motivate yourself to do something or stop yourself from doing anything.
So it is a good idea to make some ground rules for yourself to follow and adhere to them truthfully. Be your own guard or monitor. Set limits to your gadget usage, set timings for your activities, especially sleeping and playing and studying. And even if you do not have any or much homework, just sit and go through your books and notes to learn things beforehand. If you are really not in the mood, then take a storybook or magazine and read that, but do not use your study time to do something else.
Slowly you will fall into the routine, your body and mind will become tuned to it and you will not have difficulty in following your rules.
Also set rules regarding keeping your room tidy, how much pocket money to spend and save, how much time you will spend hanging out or playing with friends, etc.
Take care of your body and mind
The right amount of sleeping, eating, relaxing and physical activity is important to make you stay at the peak, mentally, emotionally and physically. Having a good night’s sleep and then a nutritious breakfast is important to keep alert, happy and active at school. And the right amount of physical activity at school, and in the evening at home are required to pump up your body and mind.
And when you are stressed, talk about it to someone who is a good listener and will give you advice that will be in your best interest. Your parents, grandparents, teachers and friends are most suitable for this. Do other things that relax and entertain you, pray as praying to God to fix all your tasks for you is the best way to get rid of worries and feel relieved.
Write things down
We all have the tendency to forget random things every day, sometimes very important things too. Make it a habit to note down things you need to do or remember, things that just come into your mind and you plan on looking into them in detail further, things your parents or teachers asked you to do, things you would like to do or check up ... the list is endless.
Have a notebook to jot down these things, write them on post-its and stick it in your room, on the fridge, or just anywhere you are bound to see it again. The notebook will serve as the dumping ground for the brain and the process of writing something is enough to make it into a memory that the brain will store and remember later on.
And writing things down is also a good habit to develop as it will serve you well in all kinds of ways when you grow up.
Your school years are very important as they lay the foundation on which you will build your future, not in terms of just your career but also your personality. And good habits built during this stage will remain and help you all through life.
Good luck with the new academic session ahead and try to make the most of the opportunities that are provided to you. Always remember that those of you reading this right now and the other school-going children are lucky to have the opportunity of education that so many children around you and the world are deprived of.
Utilise this great opportunity with great responsibility.
Published in Dawn, Young World, August 3rd, 2019