Skip to main content

Oregon Family Magazine

4 Essential Ingredients for a Successful School Year

09/28/2015 17:44 ● By Sandy Kauten
It’s that time of year again—early morning wakeup, bleary-eyed breakfast, sending your student off to school with a packed lunch. And so far, everything seems to be going…great! Your student comes home excited, they like their classes, they’re turning in assignments, and so forth.

Here’s how to make sure this momentum keeps gong.

1. Make sure they focus on SMART objectives.

If you take a pile of homework and just let it sit there, it hardly seems appealing. Why would anyone want to waste their time combing through that? Wouldn’t it be more fun to just watch Netflix?

Well, because of your student’s goals. If they have a solid level they want to reach, and if they know that every homework assignment is another rung on the ladder to success, they’ll be much more invested in their daily assignments.

But in order to get there, they need to first know where they’re going. What is your student aiming for? What do they want to achieve this school year?

But here’s the big important part—their goal needs to be SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timely). Otherwise, it’s not a goal—it’s just a dream.

Non-SMART goal example: “I want to go to Harvard.”

SMARTified: “I want to achieve a 4.0 GPA and become president of at least three clubs in the next two years.”

Once they’ve got their goals, have them write them down and look at them daily. That way, when the school year starts to drag on and they lose their homework drive, they’ll have a solid reminder of why they need to stay focused.

2. Organization

We know your student’s got a lot to juggle—classes, after-school activities, friends, sleeping. And with so many things going on, that’s why it’s even more important to stay organized. Have them get in the habit of using a planner, and writing everything down so that they can keep track of it all.

They should be writing down assignments all throughout the school day, and checking it at home to make sure they haven’t forgotten anything important. And even if they don’t have any homework in a subject, they should write down “None,” just to make sure they stay in the habit of writing.

Here’s our free planner that you can download and use, plus some tips for effectively planning.


3. Teacher Communication

Now, one of the big points of having focused goals and staying organized is so your student doesn’t miss homework assignments, or forget to study for tests. But, let’s say they’re trying to get a handle on AP English, and keep falling behind…and then completely forget to turn in an essay?

The best way to deal with this is, like many things in life, to be honest and proactive. Have your student go in to talk to their teacher before class, and explain that they really do care about the class, and they want to improve.

When the teacher knows that your student truly cares, they’ll be willing to sit down and work with them.

They also have the option of bringing in a Student-Tutor Teacher Evaluation Sheet. On these sheets, your student’s teacher can write down what they’re teaching in class, and the specific areas where your student needs to improve.


4. Engagement

Okay. Focus, organization, communication. What’s left? Well, your student needs to be engaged in what’s happening during class!

Make sure you talk to them about what they’re doing in school. Ask them to tell you about the book they’re reading for English, or the Lewis Dot Diagrams they’ve been learning about.  You might even learn something new!

If you’re having trouble getting your student engaged, and they’re a little older—around 7th thru 12th grade— you can use our Teacher Evaluation Sheet to check up on how they’re doing.

If your student’s in 6th grade or below, and having trouble staying on track, you can download our free Rewards Program. For every day they’re actively paying attention during class, the teacher can sign off a star, and move one step closer to a prize (that you choose, of course).


Overall, as long as your student stays focused, organized, communicative, and engaged, they’re going to have a fantastic school year. It’s a brand-new year, so make sure your student starts off right, and keeps moving in the right direction!y: Todd VanDuzer, CEO & Co-Founder of Student-Tutor

By: Todd VanDuzer, CEO & Co-Founder of Student-Tutor