Going Back to School – Are you Prepared?

Between teacher strikes and the pandemic-induced online learning, many students may (understandably) start wondering about their academic preparedness for the next grade as the academic semester begins to wrap up over the coming weeks. After such a rocky and uncertain year, how can anyone be sure that they learned the necessary foundational skills to succeed in the next academic year? Here are a few things you can do to help ensure you are on track this fall.

Master your current curriculum

Your school board curriculum is a great resource to help you understand the concepts that you are responsible for. Factoring in your teacher’s personal expectations of you, the curriculum details the skills, topics, and lessons that you need to master in each subject.

With this information, you can use the resources that have been granted to you this year (worksheets, textbook questions…etc.) to PRACTICE. I previously mentioned how the practice is a keystone skill inefficient learning and studying. Efficient practice in all the topics you were meant to cover this year will not only solidify your understanding but will also uncover your weaknesses and allow you to work on them.

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Try your hand at next year’s topics

Once you feel that you have sufficiently mastered this year’s topics, the best way to see if you have developed the necessary foundations for next year’s courses is….to actively try and take them on! Use this summer to get a head start on the units and subjects you would be responsible of next year.

Although I would definitely recommend going as far as you can, the first few units of the curriculum are usually the best test for your preparedness as they are typically heavily dependent on last year’s knowledge. If you are able to extend your base of knowledge into next year’s curriculum successfully, this is a good sign that you are on the right track.

On the other hand, if you find yourself unable to understand or grasp any of the new concepts (particularly in the first unit), this might point towards some foundational weaknesses in the year prior that you can work on. The academic objectives of your next year can not only be found on the school board’s curriculum, but also in resources such as “curriculum books” that are also widely sold and contain many practice problems and questions to try out!

However, you should keep in mind that teachers usually have the final say on what your learning looks like, which brings us to our next point.

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Communicate with your teachers

At the end of the day, your grades are shaped and guided by those who share the responsibility for your learning; your teachers. So, during a time of turbulence and inconsistency in education, active communication with your teachers (and tutors) is essential to make sure that you stay on track.

This tip goes both ways. You could write a short email asking your present teacher if there are any important topics that your class never got the chance to explore that might be essential next year.

On the other hand, if you happen to know which teacher you are getting next year, you can communicate with them to understand their academic expectations of you as you work towards achieving them.

While it could be the case that this year’s events will be taken into consideration when school starts up again this fall, mastering the necessary foundational concepts needed for next year’s classes will put you in a better position academically.