As a military family, we often get lost in the sauce when preparing for our kids' school year. We do the shopping, sign the papers, confirm bus routes, enroll kids at the last minute for reasons that come with our lifestyle, and the list goes on.
This year, I took a different approach to keep me grounded and eliminate unnecessary tasks. I took the time to ask my daughter about some of the things she was doing to prepare for her senior year. Initially, I aimed to cross off things on my agenda, but I got much more in return.
Linna (Lee-nuh), 16, gave me vital insight into some things she feels will aid in her having a productive senior year. Here's some of the advice she shared during our conversation on how to get the most out of the school year:
- Organize Your Workspace
A better, more organized environment may help your children focus as it presents less distractions. For Linna, that makes her learning environment better.
Need some help getting started? Our friends at Military OneSource share tips for living clutter-free.
- Know Your Schedule
Get familiar with your new schedule ahead of time. That way, you’ll know how to best manage your time and know what to expect for the flow of each day and week. That’s important to Linna because it helps her get comfortable with her class load.
If you’re looking for support in the time management department, check out this post geared towards teenagers.
- Establish a Routine
Set up a back-to-school routine that’s easy to follow. It adds structure to the day, making things feel a little less rushed and chaotic. For Linna, she feels having a routine gives you a better idea of what your day will be like, so you don’t go into it unknowingly.
Here’s a helpful article that focuses on how teens can find power in scheduling their days.
- Have Your Technology Ready
There’s a good chance your child is heading into the school year with some devices on hand – and even required technology for learning purposes. So make sure they’re tech-ready, which includes simple steps like setting the devices out and charging them the night before and sharing some tech safety tips. Our friends at Aura have some great resources on the topic of digital security, a two-week free trial, and up to 50% off at aura.com/military.
- Get a Planner
There’s just something about a traditional planner. Would you agree? Linna does as she finds it helps her keep track of assignments, goals, and to-dos. There are plenty of options on the market. Find one that matches your teen’s style or just helps them get the job done – if they’re not too picky.
Looking for some support on how to utilize a paper planner for your teen’s schedule? Check out this post, which features plenty of visuals to help master time management.
The importance of planning, organizing, and preparing for the year comes down to one thing: managing stress.
We know that over 600,000 military-connected families move each year. That’s a lot of first days at a new school and making new relationships. The unknowns of an unfamiliar community, social norms, and integrating into a new friend group can compound those first-day nerves.
While much of what military teens face is out of their control, how they set up personal routines for the school year is one thing they can dictate. The Military Child Education Coalition (MCEC) provides some tips for turning stress into strength in The Military Child Well-being Toolkit.
Blue Star Perks is also a great resource! Headspace offers a free subscription and is a meditation app. Spiritune is a music therapy app and is awesome for study sessions (free subscription). Caribu is a fun way to stay in touch with old and new friends via reading and games. And last, but certainly not least, The Swell Score and Thrive Market are both great places to pick up healthy snacks and products at an affordable price.
If you and your teen use some of the tips and resources shared above, you’ll be on your way to having a successful year. Thanks to Linna, I know I’ll take some of these tips myself. It’s a great reminder to hand over some of the school preparation elements to our kids and offer support. They’re resilient!
Looking for more resources to guide you during this new school year and beyond? Visit Blue Star Families’ Resources page.
Author: Laura Abubekr, Lockheed Martin National Capital Region DEPLOY Fellow (2022–2023)