What Every Student Needs When Starting School

The first day of school is the end result of a lot of preparation! After weeks of gathering lists, purchasing supplies, and scrambling to find that obscure scientific calculator that no one has ever heard of, you would think that the student would end up starting school with everything she needs to be successful.

Of course, this isn’t always the case. While we tend to think of supplies in terms of tangible items (like backpacks, paper, pencils, etc.), there are other factors critical to a student’s confidence level so early in the year, not to mention their academic performance over the next 8 months. Below, we’ve created a list of six things every student needs on the first day of school, from the traditional items to those less-considered.

Starting school1. The right supplies. What your student actually needs depends on the grade level, curriculum, content area, individual teacher, and more, so you’ll want to check the list distributed by your particular school for exactly what to buy. Asking your child what kinds of supplies he or she likes to have is useful, too! This can go a long way towards the student feeling ready-to-go on the first day of school.

2. Structure. At home and at school, students need not just a structure, but also the right amount and form of structure. For some, this means a quiet place to do homework or someone to sit with them nightly and talk about their day. Others need a different kind of structure–a creative and nurturing community of peers.

3. Confidence. Not much can be achieved without a sense of confidence and self-efficacy. This can vary wildly from one class to another, which makes it important for the student to show up on the first day of school with a reason to believe that he or she can succeed.

4. A sense of purpose. Your student might be wondering, why am I here? What will I learn? What can I do with what I know? If their purpose can be reduced to ‘getting good grades,’ most learning experiences will be quickly reduced to ‘grades’ as well.

5. Curiosity. This can lead to a sense of purpose, and the reverse is true as well. Curiosity can be about knowledge, relationships, and professions–the more curious the student is, the more open his or her mind will be to grow.

6. Strategies for learning. Similar to structure, strategies are the kinds of things from which students benefit often without even realizing it. Strategies for reading, writing, note-taking, conflict-resolution, test-taking–even what to do when being bullied or witnessing bullying can be of great help. Strategies are the ways to make things happen, and the more a student has in their toolbox on the first day of school, the more successful they have the chance to be. 

Allison Green
Boston Tutoring Services

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