If, like me, you're in the last week or so before you go back to school after the summer holidays, you'll know exactly how horrible and disheartening the prospect of school starting up again is. Going from the lazy routine of getting up whenever you like, doing whatever you like whenever you like, and going to bed whenever you like, getting back into the school routine is always a chore. Here are some hints and tips for how to make your transition back into term time as painless as possible:
1. Get organised
Needless to say, organisation is everything. If you have to buy your own school books, make sure you have everything off the list at least a week before school starts, so you'll have time for them to arrive if you're ordering online. Sort out any stacks of books or papers that might be hanging around from the last school year, and either recycle them or put them in labelled boxes to store. Make sure your gym kit is washed, and that any other supplies you need are ready to go.
2. Get more sleep
When it comes to sleeping during the holidays I'm not the worst culprit by far, but my summer sleep routine is very different from during school time. I tend to wake up around 9am during the holidays, whereas I need to be up by 6:45am for school - my plan for the last week of holidays before school is to wake up 15 minutes earlier each day, which will hopefully help prepare me for the shock of being conscious before 7am. The same thing applies at night: try and go to sleep a bit earlier each day. I rarely get to sleep before 2am during the summer, so my ultimate aim is to be out before midnight.
3. Deal with stress/apprehension
It's okay to be nervous about going back to school, whether you're going back at the same place with people you know, starting at a totally new school in another town or country, or going to high school/secondary school for the first time. Remember it's highly likely there will be other new people too, and also that the school will probably have a tour day so you can have a look around before the actual first day. I've been at the same school for ten years now, so I know the place like the back of my hand and I have tons of wonderful friends, but every year I get butterflies on the night before the first day back - what if I get this or that teacher, who I really don't like? What if I'm in a class with no one I know? What if this turns out to be a terrible year? For me this really only lasts up until the first lesson or so, when I realise I feel totally comfortable to be back, especially as there's no homework or tests to study for yet. If you're at a new school it might take a few weeks to get used to it, but I guarantee before long you'll feel at home and make new friends.
4. Plan ahead
If you're feeling stressed out by the idea of school, it will help a lot not to be rushing and panicking on the first day back. You want to be calm and put together, not running around looking for things or doing last-minute outfit changes. Shower the night before so you have more time in the morning, and pack your bag. Make sure you have everything you need - for me that's a purse with money, my caf card and last year's school exit card; my pencil case with new pens and pencils; a bottle of water; an umbrella; tissues etc etc. Unless you know which subjects you'll have on your first day, there's no need to take in schoolbooks on the first day. However, I always have a stack of books and exercise books about a mile high, so I tend to take in a few every day for the first week, and put them in my locker, rather than carrying the whole pile in all at once.
5. Decide on an outfit
Another thing to do the night before is plan what you're going to wear - if you wear school uniform this is a no-brainer, but I know only too well the crucial decision of deciding your outfit, weighing up the pros and cons of each item of clothing and finally running out of time and settling on any old thing. I'd say keep it low-key and not too anything, if that makes sense: don't try too hard, but make an effort to look presentable, as you want to make a decent first impression and your clothes can say a lot about you. Unless you're sure of the impression you want to give off on the first day, stick to jeans, plimsolls or Converse, a nice top and a cardigan (depending on the weather of course - I'm planning a separate 'First Day Back Outfits' post soon). Make a note of what other people tend to wear, but don't change yourself and your style just to blend in. If your school has any rules on what you can and can't wear (e.g. no makeup, no heels, no shorts etc), make sure you're aware of them and that you dress appropriately - I'm lucky that my school has no rules whatsoever!
6. On the morning of the first day
Wake up as early as you can bear, to allow for oversleeping and anything you haven't already anticipated the night before. Eat a decent breakfast (cereal, toast, fruit - whatever you need to give your brain a kick start and keep you going till lunchtime). Make sure you leave some extra time for getting to school - if you're going to a new school, practice the route you'll take beforehand so you don't get lost. If you take public transport allow time for delays, and if you go on a school bus be aware that on the first day the routine isn't quite so defined, so the bus isn't likely to be on time - get to the stop extra early just in case.
And that concludes my back to school advice! I hope it was marginally useful to you, and I wish everybody good luck for the new school year.