Ten Tips for a Successful Start to School

Advice for RHS students as distance learning begins


The difference between this school year and the last is mind blowing. Around this time last year, students could be found in the school supply section strategically digging through the notebooks and binders with a list in hand. A student may be looking for that one notebook that a teacher asked everyone to have on the first day of school (college ruled, at least 100 pages, big enough for full worksheets). Another may be looking for a pack of colored pens that doesn’t have that one color they know they’ll never use.

But now as the school year approaches, time feels like it’s standing still. With no schedule in hand and no picture day in sight, this is totally different from the structure and normality of last year. But in order to provide some vague hint of a normal beginning to school, preparing can be helpful. Any effort can create a positive effect, from a student taking the time to sit down and talk to their parents about their anxieties about the coming academic year to organizing a work space for distance learning.

Since these times are truly unprecedented, no one knows exactly how to handle this big change in the learning environment. Teachers, as well as students, would much rather be in the classroom learning like normal, but for now all we can do is try our best to make distance learning as normal as we can. 

So, here are our top tips for starting this school year off strong, and keeping that pace throughout the whole year!


Number One: Stay Connected with Other People!

It’s very important to stay connected with your friends and other classmates during this time, as having a support system will help to eliminate your individual stress. Although it may not seem like it, you are not alone during these tough times. Finding a friend or family member to confide in when you are struggling can be extremely beneficial. Your classmates can relate to the fears and hesitations about distance learning, so it can be comforting to know that you’re not alone in how you’re feeling.

Number Two: Choose to Stay Positive.

Your teachers also are here for you and they want you to succeed. They’re also having to adapt here, and it’s hard for them too. Being understanding and flexible will be extremely helpful, as it always is. If we all work together and support each other, we can maintain a positive work environment. Learning isn’t always easy, especially in the crazy world we live in today. Staying positive and understanding what our distance learning efforts are doing for our community is a good way to keep things in perspective. The more we do now to minimize the spread of COVID-19, the more likely we will be to be able to return to on campus learning later in the school year. It’s tough, but staying positive is a great way to boost productivity and make the best of our school year.  

Number Three: Be Flexible and Go with the Flow.

Since this year is so drastically different than before, it’s hard to know exactly what to expect for our unprecedented distance learning. With so many unknowns, students would benefit greatly from maintaining flexibility throughout the school year. As we have already seen in the beginning of 2020, life is really good at throwing curveballs at us, so we have to be able to see them coming. Being adaptable will be crucial for this ever changing school year, but we just need to remember to utilize our support systems and try to stay positive throughout the changes. 

… designate chunks of your day to eat, sleep, and just be a human being.

Number Four: Stay Organized – so You Don’t Lose Your Mind. 

Along with optimism, organization will be essential to maintaining a productive learning environment. Learning from home can be difficult, especially if you don’t make it clear what assignments you have and when they’re due. Keeping yourself on task and in a good state of mind to learn is very important, and will help to ensure a successful school year.

Number Five: Plan On Using a Planner.

Having this all written down in a paper planner could also be a good idea for people who like to have a tangible version to refer to. For someone who prefers a digital planner, a combination of Google Tasks and Google Calendar makes for a pretty awesome online (and paperless!) alternative.

Number Six: Declutter Your Workspace.

A lot of students also find that they are more able to focus when their space is free of distractions, so taking the time to clean off a surface for distance learning could be valuable. As school starts, having a spot where only school work happens could also create a mental association between the spot and work, leading to increased productivity. 

Number Seven: Create a Schedule.

Another helpful way to provide structure for distance learning is to create a schedule, whether loose or more rigid. When students have been on campus in the past, they’ve had a sense of structure to hold together their days and regulate their productivity. Everyday, students were held accountable for their work and had to see a teacher in person when they forgot an assignment or didn’t do the homework.

Number Eight: Work Out a Work Space.

As students begin the new school year, they may find that creating designated times to do schoolwork (other than classes) will lead to more productivity. Creating positive habits is hard work, but by creating times that are habitually productive, a student is no longer solely reliant on motivation and can practice self discipline.

Number Nine: Plan for Being a Person.

In order to maintain a healthy work and home balance, designate chunks of your day to eat, sleep, and just be a human being. Try thinking about what you’ll eat for lunch or when you’ll watch your episodes of The Office during the school week can make things easier and make being at home more enjoyable. Just having something to look forward to after you’re done working can make a world of difference.

Number Ten: Remember that this is Temporary!

With all the ever changing factors of our learning this year, it’s important to do our best in making the most of it and remember that soon we’ll be on the hybrid model and will get to see our peers and teachers in person. Staying positive, organized, and connected while maintaining your own personal needs as an individual will ultimately lead to a successful year, as long as you’re willing to put in the work. We’re all in this together, and we’re here to support each other – We Are Rocklin!


Planning for Success in a Nutshell:

Emotional and mental steps

  • Build a support system 
    • Communicate with friends and classmates 
  • Stay optimistic, even when its tough
  • Be flexible
  • Staying organized and get a planner to keep track of work
  • Be prepared to be communicating with teachers
  • Set rules and expectations for yourself during school time to stay productive


Physical steps

  • Set up a spot for working from home and clean it up
    • somewhere quiet with minimal distractions, preferably a room separate from others
    • should have a flat surface for writing on and putting a Chromebook on
  • Grab some basic school supplies
    • Get a calendar or planner to keep track of Google Meets and due dates
  • Brainstorm a schedule
    • what time you want to wake up
    • allow time for getting ready
    • factor in stretch breaks and snacks