All right, parents!

It’s the beginning of September, and just about all throughout Southern California, school is back in session. It’s another year of challenges and opportunities, and another year where we look forward to honing and developing the skill sets of our students.

Many kids fall into a common trap at the beginning of the year: still used to the lazy days of summer, they continue to kick back and inhabit the same mental “head space” that they were in only a few weeks prior. They coast a bit through the first week or so, but their head might not be in the game until a few challenging tests come their way.

It’s our position that such a dip doesn’t even need to happen!

The initial weeks of any new class is a critical time. As with any new professional relationship, the first several days represents a “getting to know you” period. For a student, it’s a great opportunity to become aware of different sets of expectations a new teacher might have, communication styles, day-to-day work flow, and what material is used as the basis for test questions.

When we work with students, we communicate that there’s no “non-important” point of the school year. The truth is that points are points when it comes to determining one’s grade, and it’s usually easier to score well on chapter 1 than it is to score well on the final exam. Starting off strong is an excellent way to secure a spectacular grade 20 weeks down the road.

With our students, we like to ask them several important questions that wake them up after the time off. What is the teacher communicating? What seems important to him or her? What are specific tasks they want completed in a particular way (such as heading a paper or separating a folder)? By putting them into the roles of detectives, our students more quickly assess a teacher’s style and rules early on, allowing them to avoid being surprised by early tests and quizzes.

Naturally, these skills carry over year-to-year, allowing students we work with in one semester to be ahead of the game when they meet a new set of teachers and classes later on down the line. At Walker, we constantly communicate that mastery of a subject doesn’t come down to a last-minute crunch session. Instead, it’s about developing and maintaining healthy, mindful work habits regardless of what week it is in the school year.