Hanscom%27s+Top+Five%3A+Ways+for+students+to+prepare+for+a+%22back-to-normal%22+school+year

Nicholas Hanscom

Hanscom’s Top Five: Ways for students to prepare for a “back-to-normal” school year

July 17, 2021

It is undeniable that COVID-19 and lockdown have altered many people’s habits and behaviors over the past 15 months. From remote and hybrid education models making home days the new norm to quarantine causing several students to develop social anxiety, the recent transition back to “normal” life during the past few months has felt a bit awkward, to say the least. 

Unfortunately, beginning the 2021-2022 school year, where every DGN student will be back in the building full-time and will follow a system almost identical to pre-pandemic education, is bound to feel just as foreign, if not more. So, I have composed a list of the top five things DGN students should do to get back in the pre-pandemic rhythm and prepare for the upcoming school year! 

1. Read!

With summer reading programs often becoming a summertime responsibility for several students, not many are new to such a concept—and chances are not many will admit to enjoying it, either. However, there are no book requirements this summer, per an email from the DGN English Department May 11. As a result, students have free reign over what they choose to read over break.

That said, though, students shouldn’t take the English department’s message as a ticket to avoid reading this summer. Not only does reading provide lifelong mental and physical advantages, but it also protects students from the damaging effects of summer learning loss, keeping them up to speed for the upcoming school year. After a year of increased stress and learning obstacles, such benefits are even more significant!

Not sure what to read? Well, the English department was so kind as to provide this sprawling list of books to enjoy! But it doesn’t stop there. Chicago Tribune writer Christopher Borrelli has also given diverse summer reading suggestions from sports to self-care. And of course, Barnes & Noble and Anderson’s Bookshop are also ideal locations to explore for the perfect summer read!

2. Exercise!

One of the most prominent memories I have about DGN’s physical education courses this past year is the many detriments the pandemic has placed on it. Not only did such classes face obstacles executing their essential content, but there were also times where teachers noticed that numerous students weren’t trying their best. 

While the pandemic might have thrown difficulties toward the 2020-2021 school year’s PE classes, though, students can help these courses make a comeback this year! To help achieve that, students must prepare physically and mentally for their PE classes before heading into a more “normal-looking” school year this fall. By doing so, they will fall back into a sturdy fitness rhythm that will allow them to prosper and succeed in their PE classes. 

Not sure how or where to begin? Luckily, there are several simple tricks out there to fire up our fitness engines up again! To start, check out these 10 tips about creating a daily workout routine! And, if in need of some inspiration, take a look at these home and outdoor workout ideas! Whether it’s an at-home yoga session or taking a walk around town, getting back into a consistent exercise regimen will direct students toward success in this year’s PE classes.

3. Get Some Rest!

With all the stress and fear of this past year, it hasn’t been easy to get some quality z’s. Although, as society returns to a level of normalcy and an entirely in-person school year looms ahead, this is something that needs some improvement! 

The perks of students getting more sleep as fall approaches are extensive and, like making time for more exercise, will help schools recover from the chaos of these past 16 months. For one, sleep bears a solid link to student success, a fact that is even more relevant after a year of remote learning harming students’ grades. Additionally, sleep strengthens an individual’s immune system, which can help protect those who are not fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

With all this information, it is clear that sleep will be vital for students this coming school year. Of course, with a month left of summer break, it is understandable that not everyone’s sleep schedules will be consistent. But about one or two weeks before school starts Aug. 13, sleep should begin to become a priority for every student! To accomplish that, check out this helpful website to learn more about how much sleep teenagers should get and some tips to getting more!

4. Organize!

With Zoom classes having taken over much of this past school year and most schoolwork having been digital, backpacks, school supplies and paper assignments haven’t been all that common. However, as DGN will operate this year much like it had before COVID-19, these materials will make a definite return—and so will the necessary organization that comes with them!

Given this, a quick trip to the store will soon be a smart idea. While there, my advice would be to keep in mind the classes you will take this school year, assigning a specific folder or binder section color to each one. In addition, students should equip themselves with a calendar; pens, pencils, highlighters and any other desired writing utensils; and a notebook for each class. These supplies tend to be enough for many, although this list provides several other helpful items worth considering!

But while getting organizational supplies for the start of the school year is a great start, cleaning out and sorting through the things students already have is equally important! Before school begins, students should consider sorting through emails, throwing out and deleting paper handouts or digital documents they no longer need and organizing old notes that could be useful for upcoming classes. Such actions can clear students’ minds and allow them to go back to school with a clean slate.

Unfortunately, organizing isn’t everyone’s thing. Luckily, though, multiple helpful resources can provide students with organizational inspiration before and even during this coming school year! For starters, check out this article for more ideas on how students can get and stay organized. And, for detailed advice about keeping track of classwork and homework, be sure to refer to this site as well!

5. Schedule Some Me-Time!

If there were one thing I wish I had more of this past school year, it would be more free time. And, from numerous other students I’ve spoken to, I know I’m not the only one who feels this way! With so much schoolwork having been digital, it was difficult not to get trapped staring at the computer screen until everything was complete. 

However, when clubs, sports, extracurriculars and in-person classes start back up full time, it will be critical for students to get back to setting time aside for themselves! Not only can enjoying some me-time provide students with decreased stress and anxiety, but it can also enhance their mood and psychological engagement. Additionally, recreational activities are associated with improved physical and psychosocial states.

By mixing a bit of free time into their daily routines, students can regain focus and confidence, readying themselves to face anything this “back-to-normal” school year throws their way! Unsure of what to do during me-time? Check out these 84 relaxing activities. And for more ideas, the four previous tips in this article are also excellent (and productive) ways to spend your free time!

 

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