Back to School Survival Guide for Students

By Steve Green, Executive Director
Sylvan Learning of Richmond

Mother daughter homework

For many students, the first day of school doesn’t only bring new teachers and new friends – it can also be a source of anxiety with homework assignments and tests just around the corner. Starting the school year off on the right foot can help minimize students’ stress levels throughout the year.

Get Cleaning. A dirty, cluttered room is not conducive to studying. Get organized before homework starts piling up.

  • Remove seldom-worn clothing.
  • Pack away belongings not used on a regular basis.
  • For smaller children, label areas so they can easily see where belongings should go.

Carve Out A Homework Spot. Whether it is in your bedroom, the basement, or a family office, find an area where you can work distraction-free and claim it as your official workspace.

  • Pick a place that is always available and where you feel comfortable doing schoolwork.
  • Stock the area with all of the supplies and tools that are needed to complete homework.

Get Organized. Organization is key to ensure you stay on top of the requirements for each subject.
Use separate, labeled notebooks for each class.

  • Create files for each subject. The folders can hold assignments, essays, handouts and notes taken during classes.
  • Purchase a planner or calendar to keep track of important dates and deadlines.

Set Educational Goals. Whether it is striving for an A in a certain subject, handing in all homework on time or preparing for tests well in advance, setting goals can help establish a routine for the new year.

  • Set goals that are measurable, specific, reasonable and have personal value.

Stay On Schedule. Minimize last minute cramming or deadline mix-ups by creating a detailed school schedule.

  • Include all classes, assignments and key dates, such as project deadlines and test dates. Fill in new dates as they arise.
  • Schedule specific times for studying, projects and extracurricular activities. The more thorough the schedule, the more helpful it will be to you.

Know The School. If you ever feel swamped with back to school madness, ask for help. Schools assist students with transitioning from one grade to another. Meet with your guidance counselor and/or teachers. If you are still nervous, ask your mom or dad to drop you off at school on the first day of class.

Be Adventurous. Step out of your comfort zone this school year by trying new things academically and in terms of extracurricular activities.

  • Try every type of class and/or activity. You never know what your strengths are until you experience as much as you can.
  • Challenge yourself. If you have the opportunity, take the hardest classes – not the easiest subjects.
  • Ask questions. There is nothing wrong with not always knowing the answer. Asking questions is the best way to learn!

Think Positive. Yes, going back to school means homework and early mornings. It also means reconnecting with old friends, meeting new people, resuming fun extracurricular activities, learning more about your favorite subjects and improving on your last year’s performance.
For more educational resources for children in grades pre-K through 12, please visit or call 804-782-2377


Steve Green is the Executive Director and Owner of the Richmond Sylvan Learning Centers, which is the leading provider of tutoring to students of all ages, grades and skill levels with more than 30 years of experience and nearly 800 centers located throughout North America. Sylvan’s trained and Sylvan-certified instructors provide personalized instruction in reading, writing, mathematics, study skills and test-prep for college entrance and state exams. Sylvan also hosts, a blog offering tips and resources from moms and education experts. For more information, call 1-800-31-SUCCESS or visit

This Article is Sponsored by Sylvan Learning Center of Richmond

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