Student success with minimal spending

The beginning of every school year is an exciting time: Time to spend days with friends, time to learn new and exciting things, time to experience teaching from a different group of teachers.

But it can also be a stressful time for those students who struggle in school and for parents who want to help them. As students transition from elementary school to middle school, junior high and senior high, good habits become important in helping students find success. Here are a few things you can do to find success as you transition through school:

Utilize a homework folder

The first thing you should do in order to be successful in school is to have a homework folder.

This folder should travel with you to all of your classes and should be brightly colored so that it won’t be forgotten in a locker or backpack. Each time you receive work that will need to be completed at home, place it in the folder so you do not have to spend time at the end of the day trying to remember what you have to do for homework that night.

On day one, you should start off by putting all of the important papers that you must take home for parents/guardians to sign. Parents can help by asking to see the homework folder when they get home. Since this is just a small folder, you won’t need to spend more than a couple of dollars to keep your homework organized.

Stay focused

The second thing you should do in order to be successful in school is to have a designated spot to complete your homework. It should be an area that will not allow you to get distracted, but should be in the family area in case you need help with your homework. This area should be stocked with pens, pencils, erasers, paper and any other items you will need to complete your homework on a daily basis. It is important that you use this area routinely, so that you will establish good habits for the school year. Parents should be welcome as they may be needed to assist with difficult assignments or projects. You might need some supplies to keep in the homework area but since it is mostly writing utensils and paper, you could set this up for under $20.

Stay organized

The third thing you should do in order to be successful in school is to create a system of organization in your locker and in your notebooks/binders. If you are unorganized, you will not be able to find what you need when you need it, and this could be disastrous when trying to turn in homework. Have a binder, folder and/or notebook for each class that is labeled and easy to distinguish from your other materials. You might want to consider color coordinating with your book cover for that class in order to make things easier for yourself as well. Inside each binder, folder, and/or notebook you should have sections for things such as quizzes, notes, handouts, projects, and writing assignments. If you keep them all organized and put things in the correct section immediately, you will remain organized and make the year easier on yourself. Parents can check notebooks now and again to make sure there is a system of organization, and to remind students to clean out old papers from time to time. Depending on how many binders, folders, and notebooks you need, this should cost you between $20 and $50. This will also depend on whether you splurge for the matching book covers.

Have fun

The fourth thing you should do in order to be successful in school is to find a way to enjoy all of your classes. When you enjoy your classes you are much more attentive and it makes the work fun. If you can work on a lab with a friend and have fun while you are doing it, you will be more likely to do well at that lab. If you can be in a group with your friends while working on a project for social studies, the time will go by quickly and you will improve your chances of a good grade on the project. Take an elective that you know you will enjoy and do well at and learn all that you can while having a good time sculpting, playing an instrument, singing, cooking a meal, or building a bookshelf. All of these things will help you enjoy your time at school and improve your outlook as well as your grades. Parents should encourage their children to try different classes and to take a risk because you never know if you will like something until you have tried it. Some electives might require you to purchase supplies, but most of the fun can be had for free.

Get involved

The last thing you should do to be successful at school is to get involved. Join a club, a sport, a musical group, or theater group. The more involved you are, the more pride you will have in yourself, your school and your friends. This type of pride will lead to success and will help you to achieve your goals while you are in school. Parents can help by sharing their stories of the enjoyment they had in the groups they were a part of while they were in school. Many years later, adults will still reminisce about the fun they had on the football team, cheer squad, marching band, soccer team, National Honor Society, Model United Nations, film club, etc. Explore who you are and what you like to do. Some groups might have activity fees, dues, uniform fees, or fundraising quotas, so this could cost a bit more than the other tips for success. Expect to spend no more than a few hundred dollars, most of which you can probably fundraise.

Following these tips will help you to get the most out of your school years!


Dawn Croissette is a language arts teacher at East Juniata  High School and the language arts department chair for Juniata County School District.