The Top 14 Things to Do Before You Go Back to School

Junior summer school - juniors in garden

The new school year is nearly upon us, and it’s time to start making preparations for going back to school.

The summer holidays often end in a last-minute rush to get things done in time for the start of term. After all, there can be a lot to do – stocking up on stationery, planning for your new timetable, or even getting ready for subjects or styles of teaching that you’ve never experienced before. This panic is easily avoided by following the advice in this article. Let’s look at what you need to do before you go back to school for a stress-free start to this school year.

1. Have a quick read through what you did last year

If you’re continuing the same course in the new school year that you were doing last year, you’ll find it much easier to pick up where you left off by spending a little bit of time revising what you did last year. Have a read through your notes and essays from last term, just to refresh your memory. Even if you’re not studying exactly the same topics, it’s still worth recapping what you did in case it comes in useful as background information, or for any mock (or real) exams you might have coming up. It’s surprising what you forget when you have several weeks off, so you’ll feel more confident approaching the new school year if you remind yourself what you were last working on. This will also put you in the right frame of mind for going back to school.

2. Read through the syllabus for the year ahead

Another way of readying yourself for the year ahead is by reading through the syllabus for each of the subjects you’re taking next year. The syllabus outlines the areas of each subject prescribed by the curriculum, as well as noting what detailed topics you’ll be studying within each of them. Absorbing this information will help you mentally prepare for the new school year, as well as giving you an overview of what to expect, so that nothing comes as a surprise once term starts. It’s always a good idea to get a clear picture of the bigger picture for each of your subjects, so that you can see how and where each specific topic fits in. While you’re reading the syllabus, you could also have a look at how each subject is assessed, so that you know what you’re working towards this year.

3. Get a headstart on the new term’s subjects

Having read the syllabuses and seen what lies ahead, you might like to give yourself a headstart by starting to read up on some of the things you’re going to be studying in the new term. For example, if you know that a particular novel is going to be on the agenda for A-level English Literature, make sure you’ve read it by the time you go back to school so that you don’t have the time constraints imposed by trying to read it alongside all your other school commitments. If you know what you’re going to be studying in History in the new term, go on the internet and find an introduction to the period you’re going to be covering so that you start back at school with a good grounding in the general timeline of events in this period.
If you’ve spotted any areas you think you might find particularly challenging, it would also be beneficial to do a bit of groundwork by reading an introduction to these areas so that you understand the basics before you start. You might also revise what you learnt in relevant subjects in previous years. For example, if you’re about to start an A-level Physics course, and you’re worried that your maths is a bit rusty, it would be a good idea to brush up on your GCSE Maths in preparation. This will help you hit the ground running when you go back to school.

4. Buy the books you need

Find out whether there are any textbooks or set texts that you’ll need for the new school year and get hold of your own copies of them. Put your name inside each of them in case you mislay them at school, and organise them on your bookshelves in subject order. You can save money by buying second hand books, but make sure you have the right edition of any textbooks: older editions may contain out-of-date information, or have different page numbers, which makes life difficult when you’re trying to find the right section when your teacher tells you to turn to a particular page. The page number problem is also likely to be an issue for different editions of novels, so it’s best to buy the one recommended by your school so that everyone’s working from the same one.

5. Buy some nice new stationery

Moving on to more practical matters, another thing to do before you go back to school is invest in some new stationery. Gather together what stationery you already have and see what could do with replacing. New stationery can be surprisingly motivational, so buy new notepads, pens, pencils, pencil tin, ruler, colourful Post-It notes – anything that might conceivably come in useful and that will make your day to day studies more enjoyable.

6. Ensure any summer homework projects are completed

If you’ve been given any homework assignments over the summer, make sure that they’re all completed, and to a high standard; there’s no excuse for handing in sloppy work when you’ve had all summer to work on it. If you can, try not to leave summer homework to the last minute. If you do, it’s bound to come across as rushed and won’t get your new school year off to a very good start. Allowing plenty of time, on the other hand, means you can complete your summer projects in a stress-free manner, producing a high standard of work that sets the tone for the new school year. Start as you mean to go on!

7. Check your wardrobe

You don’t want to get up for school on your first day back, only to find that all your clothes have holes in them or don’t fit you any more, so now’s the time to buy new school clothes if any of those currently in your wardrobe are showing their age. The same goes for shoes and any other accessories you wear or carry around with you each day. If you’re about to enter a sixth form in which uniform is not required, make sure you have some appropriate clothes for wearing to school; nothing too shabby, even if there’s no real dress code, as dressing a little smarter for school than you do in your leisure time will help you get into the right frame of mind for school. Don’t forget also that you’re going into the winter, so make sure you have enough winter clothing to get you comfortably through the colder months.

8. Get your school bag ready

Make sure your school bag is clean and equipped with everything you’ll need – the new stationery, your textbooks, a calculator, and so on. This is also the time to ensure that your school bag is up to the job – any worn straps or holes are only going to get worse when it’s full of heavy books, so now’s the time to replace it if necessary.

9. Prepare your home working space

If you’ve let your room get messy over the summer, tidy it and make ready your workspace so that it’s all in order for you to knuckle down to homework as soon as you get home from your first day back at school. Clear your desk, get your files and books into some semblance of order and make any changes necessary to getting it as good as it can be for your studies. For example, if you’ve been finding it a bit dark, invest in a new desk lamp so that you can read clearly. Small changes like this can make a big difference to how efficiently you’re able to work.

10. Make some resolutions

The start of a new school year is the ideal time to put into place some ‘New School Year’s Resolutions’ – a set of goals for the year ahead and things you’re going to do differently to ensure that you ‘up your game’ and get excellent results throughout the year. This could include things such as getting up earlier so that you have more time to study, making more productive use of your lunch breaks and setting aside time each week for reading around your subject. Start the year as you mean to go on, and you’ll get into some great habits that will enable you to reach new heights of academic achievement. We’ve put together some suggested resolutions here.

11. Set your alarm and stock up on breakfast and lunch items

If you haven’t been working over the summer, you may have slipped out of a daily routine, and it can be difficult to get straight back into one. If you’ve had a lie-in every day of the holidays, it’s a good idea to start getting yourself used to the idea of an alarm clock again, so that it doesn’t come as too much of a shock to the system on your first day back at school. Try setting it for 9am a week or two before you go back, then set it a quarter or half an hour earlier each day so that you gradually adjust to early starts again. Stock up on quick and easy breakfasts that will fill you up for a morning at school, such as microwaveable porridge, and go shopping for some healthy packed lunch foods to take to school with you, such as snack packs of raisins.

12. Make sure your summer employer knows you’re going back to school

If you’ve had a summer job, make sure your employer knows when you’re going back to school and perhaps try to organise weekend work for when you go back. The end of the summer is also a good time to update your CV with any summer work or projects you’ve been doing, so that it stays up-to-date and it’s ready for any part-time jobs you might want to apply for in the new school year. Take stock of what you’ve learned from any summer jobs or work experience you’ve had during the holidays, and include the key skills you’ve picked up from each of them on your CV.

13. Relax

The summer holiday is almost at an end, so make the most of what’s left of it by treating yourself to some relaxation time before the rigours of the new school year begin. That’s what the holidays are for, after all! You have a busy year ahead of you, and you need to approach it feeling rested and relaxed. Take some time to do things that you want to do: go on outings, see a film, meet up with friends. Perhaps you could even organise a final day of fun with your friends – a day at a theme park, for instance. The happy memories you’ll create as the summer draws to a close will keep you going until your next holiday, so make the most of this time while you can.

14. Keep your brain in gear over the summer

Finally, a more general piece of summer advice, since there’s still a bit of it left. There are plenty of fun ways of keeping your brain in gear over the summer, and they’ll make it much easier for you to readjust to life back at school once the holidays are over. Reading, watching interesting television documentaries, visiting museums and practising your language skills in a foreign country are all things you can do over the summer to help keep the academic side of your brain ticking over, and you can find even more suggestions here. It’s not too late to do these things now, and this is a good way of easing yourself back into the routine of studying.