It’s school time again! You’re probably feeling excited and maybe a little sad that summer is over. Some kids feel nervous or a little scared on the first day of school because of all the new things: new teachers, new friends, and maybe even a new school. Luckily, these “new” worries only stick around for a little while.
Moving to High School
The move from elementary to high school is one of those times when we, children, most need our parents, but are often too embarrassed to ask for support. It’s normal that we are beginning to push away from them. Of course, parents should respect that. On the other hand, it’s important for them to balance a respect for their child’s desire for independence with a very real need to stay involved in his/her life and education.
Starting high school is a major rite of passage for adolescents, says George White, associate professor of educational leadership at Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, and a former middle-school principal. The social and emotional fears that incoming freshmen deal with can have a direct impact on their academic performance.
The difference in size of our old and new school can have a big impact on our transition. Kids from smaller school districts may face a kind of culture shock in large, regional high schools. Larger class sizes, more students, a bigger campus, and teaching styles more focused on the subject matter than the needs of individual students can be difficult for incoming freshmen.
Most teachers kick off the school year by introducing themselves and talking about all the stuff you’ll be doing that year. Some teachers give students a chance to tell something about themselves to the rest of the class. When teachers do the talking on the first day, they often go over classroom rules so you’ll know what’s allowed and what’s not. Pay close attention so you’ll know if you need to raise your hand to ask a question and what the rules are about visiting the restroom. You might already know a lot of kids in your classes on the first day. But it’s a great day to make a new friend, so try to say hello to kids you know and new ones that you don’t. Make the first move and you’ll be glad you did and so will your new friend!
This is just what it sounds like — a classroom you’ll go to each morning, kind of like your home in the school. In high school, you might move from classroom to classroom for each subject. Your teachers know that this is a big change from elementary school and will help you adjust.
Most teachers let you pick your own seat on the first day, but by the second or third morning, they’ll have mapped out a seating plan. At first, it’s a good idea to write down where your seat is in your notebook so you don’t forget.
Feeling Good on Day One
Seeing friends you haven’t seen in a while can make the first day a good one. You also can make the day feel special by wearing an outfit you like. Maybe you got a great T-shirt on vacation, or your new sneakers put a spring in your step. If you wear a uniform, you might wear a favorite watch, a new hair band, or a piece of jewelry to show your personal style.
It can make you feel good to be prepared and have all the supplies you need. Some schools distribute supply lists before the year begins, so you can come stocked up on pencils, folders, and whatever else you’ll be needing. Once you’ve covered the basics, you might tuck some extra money in your backpack for an emergency (like forgetting your lunch money). Or maybe you’d like to bring along a book or magazine to read while you’re on the bus.
Whatever you put in your backpack, make sure you pack it the night before. This prevents the morning panic when you can’t find your homework or lunch box. Speaking of lunch, that’s something else that can help you feel good at school — whether it’s the first day or the 100th day. Help your parents pack it the night before if you don’t like what’s on the menu at the cafeteria. Try to include a variety of foods in your packed lunch, especially fruits and vegetables.
The first day of school is your first chance to find your way around a new school, or learn the pathways to new classes in your old school. It’s a lot to learn in one day, so don’t be surprised if you need a reminder or two. It might help to write a few notes to yourself, so you’ll remember the important stuff. Before you know it, you won’t have to check your notes any more!
A Bad Start?
What if you hate school by the end of day one? Teachers recommend giving things some time to sort themselves out — once you know your way around the building and get adjusted to the new routine, you’ll probably feel better. If those feelings don’t fade, talk to your mom, dad, teacher, or school counselor.
Here are a few final tips for a fantastic school year:
- Get enough sleep.
- Eat a healthy breakfast.
- Try your best.
- Use good work habits, like writing down your assignments and turning in your homework on time.
- Take your time with school work. If you don’t understand something, ask the teacher.
- Keep a sense of humor. One teacher I know shows his new students a picture of himself graduating high school — a grinning ape in a red graduation cap and gown. This usually makes the kids laugh, and it’s a good way to remind them that school is fun!
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