Back-to-school blues?

The holiday is at an end and the start of the new school year is upon us. Gone are the days of glorious fun in the sun, swimming and surfing, sleeping late, spending time with friends and generally just doing what you enjoy.

Now it’s back to an early morning routine, uniforms, homework and your array of teachers. It’s crunchtime, in other words, but what can you do to make going back to school less difficult?

Uniform action. Make sure your uniform – including socks, shoes and tie – is in order. Don’t wait until the day before school starts to tell your parents you need new shorts – chances are they might not be able to find the right ones at such short notice. Check whether your uniform still fits – if you are thirteen or fourteen, you might have outgrown it over the holidays.

Subject choices. Make up your mind about which subjects you want to do before the start of the school year. You won’t have time to consider these carefully enough once the term has started. Do not let yourself be influenced by the subject choices of your friends. It is your future you have to consider.

Phone a friend. Make contact with a classmate before the start of term. It helps to break the ice if you can arrive together on the first day of school.

Schoolbag savvy. Get a strong and durable school bag that will protect your books. Stay within school regulations – the last thing you want to do is to attract attention on your first day in Grade 8, because you have the only neon green bag in the school.

Covering up. Get brown paper and plastic and sellotape in abundance. There are always many more books to cover than one expects. Before you spend money on expensive covers, find out what teachers want the books to look like.

Focus on future fun. Organise something which you can look forward to, like a social occasion with friends or a trip to the movies. It can help you to get through the first few difficult days.

Fly below the radar. Especially if you are going to a new school, the last thing you want to do is to be remembered by the principal and the class bully because of something silly you did.

Get an early start. Get up earlier than you need to on the first day. There is nothing worse than being late on day one, because you got onto the wrong bus or you could not find your stationery kit.

On your marks. Your school performance goes a long way to determining what you will be doing for the rest of your life. Work hard and make an investment in your own future.

Be prepared. Put everything out the night before – from socks, to gym kit, to ruler, to shirt. Don’t be caught in a mad rush on your first morning and arrive flustered.

Hold out for the holidays. The next holiday is only about ten weeks away. That is not a complete eternity.

Dealing with a difficult teacher. It is unusual for a year to go by without your having at least one of these. Do what is required of you, so that you do not clash head on with someone who could make your life a misery. If the teacher is completely unreasonable, there are avenues you can use to state your case. With a bit of luck, you may be able to change classes, or get someone else the following year. See this as training for later life – there are many difficult people out there.

(Susan Erasmus, Health24, updated June 2010)

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