As we move along the school year calendar, most Ontario high-school students are starting second semester this month. The shift back to the traditional semester schedule over the previous modified model is welcomed by many students, parents, and teachers. It will still represent a major adjustment in routine. There are also secondary students who will be experiencing a regular semester timetable for the very first time. To help with this transition, the Teachers on Call team would like to share our advice with you.
What does the return to the traditional second semester schedule look like?
In the semester system the academic year is divided into two sessions and each semester is around 15 weeks long. There are four 75-minute classes daily with 5 minutes travel time between classes and one lunch break. This differs from the previous modified semester routine where students had two subjects in week one and another two subjects in week two.
How does this change in scheduling impact students?
Students will have shorter classes with the increase from two to four courses daily, and more time to digest material. While many high schoolers are feeling relieved with the return to a regular semester schedule, it’s still important to have a plan as the semester will still move at a fast pace.
Tips from our tutoring team for a successful second semester:
Plan and set goals
The start of the semester is an opportunity for your child to plan and set academic goals. This is when students can acknowledge which courses they feel may require more attention. While goal setting is widely popular, we recommend having students write them down for each course. After all, there is a famous Harvard Business Study that re-enforces this concept.
Get ahead early in the semester
The semester moves by faster than we realize. Take note if students had trouble with specific subjects last school year or are struggling early on with concepts. This is often observed early in subjects like Math or Science, or when a student is required to write an essay. The beginning of the course is the ideal time to start receiving additional support. From our professional experience, it will be easier and less stressful than waiting and allowing issues to build.
Take advantage of all resources available
We always recommend that students take advantage of all resources available to them. In addition to our tutoring service, encourage your child to take advantage of other support available such as if the school has a homework club, or if there is extra help from the teacher. The high-school guidance counsellor is also a great resource to help ensure a successful school experience both socially and academically.
Practice good study habits
Staying organized and practicing good study habits is key for a successful semester. We encourage students to mark down due dates and deadlines, as well as keep their notes neat and classwork organized by course. It’s also important to create a quiet study space free from distractions. We have numerous of blogs on these topics.
Consider academic coaching
For students who have difficulty staying organized or poor executive functioning skills, you may want to consider academic coaching. Like having a personal trainer at a gym, an academic coach is in place to help your child stay on track to develop strong time management and learning skills. This is someone (besides Mom or Dad) to be accountable to in reaching academic goals.
Learn to manage stress
It’s widely acknowledged by experts that teenagers have experienced an increase in anxiety since the start of the pandemic. Help your child reduce stress by encouraging them to get proper sleep, take frequent breaks, get fresh air and participate in activities they enjoy. Online tutoring can also be an important support when students are feeling discouraged.
Remember course selection for next year
Students entering grade 9 to 12 next year will complete course selection in February and March, dates very based on your child’s school board. Check the school’s website for important dates, and encourage your child to book an appointment with their school guidance counsellor if they have questions about which courses to select for next year.
Encourage consistent tutoring versus on demand help
Since our start in 1984, our team has experience helping students with major transitions, curriculum support, academic coaching and most importantly in reaching their full potential. Our philosophy is to start early if possible and encourage consistent weekly tutoring when needed. While students are often tempted to ask for help and request extensive tutoring prior to tests and exams, we believe consistent tutoring in digestible sessions to be the best strategy for desired outcomes with less stress for all (and tends to add up to the same number of hours in the end)!
Maintain a positive outlook
We all have subjects that do not come naturally to us. If you see that your child is struggling and suffering from low self-confidence, it’s important to encourage your daughter or son to keep going and not to give up. We see this often in subjects like Math. Our belief is that if students try their best by putting in the necessary time to complete their work, combined with receiving consistent tutoring when needed, that together this will make a tremendous difference academically.
We hope our tips are helpful for your family. Please do not hesitate to contact us to chat about your child’s academic needs and goals. Wishing everyone a successful second semester!
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