Tips for new academic year

In the course of the first week of January 2020, many students will resume school.

Students are eager to start their new academic year on a new note, and with new hopes of a successful year ahead.

In this academic year, students are moving from one level to another and for this reason, education experts believe that early preparation matters a great deal to ensure they are ready for the changes ahead.

Faustin Mutabazi, the chief executive officer at Educational Consultancy Bureau, an organisation that supports education and curriculum activities, urges that a new beginning is incomplete without parents and students embracing valuable conducts immediately after the Christmas celebration.

He says preparations should include learning to prioritise.

Think about ways to expand your learning opportunities. Net photo.

“It is imperative to develop the habit of prioritising tasks. This helps to manage time and focus on important work. In addition, it not only makes a student more efficient but also helps them focus on their goals,” he says.

He goes on to add that this, in turn, will help students concentrate on what is important.

He also says learners should be organised, adding that this is the best time for them to start scheduling their time and what they will be doing as soon as school opens.

Mutabazi notes that it’s important to develop time management skills.

He explains that this might be hard because learners have been under little to no pressure regarding school work, and so parents should ensure their children are back to a studying mood. 

To be able to study in a productive way, he says, students should ensure they get enough rest and sleep.

Ronald Wandira, the head of the humanities department at Riviera High School and year leader—advanced level—at Rwanda Education Board (REB), points out that whenever students break for end of the year holiday, they tend to forget about studies, and therefore, it’s important for parents to remind them to go through their academic work.

Reasons for this, he says, include the idea that they are going to another class, and so there is new content, new syllabus and a new approach, and, therefore, no need to revise old stuff.

However, he says they forget that this is the continuation of the previous work, apart from those shifting from one level to another like from primary to secondary.

“They need to understand that the work they have been doing in the previous classes is as relevant as the work that they will find in the next class. What is required is to put together all the information they studied, and prepare it for continuation in the following academic year,” he says.

Another way to prepare, Wandira says, is to look at the report card they received when closing schools.

He goes on to add that some students had very low marks, and those are areas they should now start looking at.

Parents should look for teachers or home-schooling tutors to help in those areas, so that by the time they start the new academic year, they are ahead, Wandira says.

Isaac Ddumba, a teacher at La Colombier School, Kigali, explains that whenever learners go for the long holiday, when they resume school, they are completely ‘clueless’, especially those who haven’t been doing revision at all.

Yes, he says, they have to celebrate, but when the festive season is over, they should pick up on academics.

While this is being done, however, Ddumba says learners need time to rest for a relaxed mind.

Ddumba goes on to add that it’s important for students and parents to note that visualisation leads to realisation, therefore, making plans for a new term should not be time-consuming.

He says parents should help their kids, in fact, he notes that they should sit down together and plan how the term will go.

This can be done by jotting down important aspects and activities, especially on the requirements that are needed at school, scholastic or otherwise. 

New schools

For the new academic year, some parents will transfer their students to new schools due to different reasons, and experts say it’s important to first assess the new school before moving your child there.

Wandira says if parents are choosing to change their children’s previous school, it’s important to talk to their children about it, especially about what the new school has to offer.

Making sure the child is part of the process, he says, is important because it prevents cases of learners failing to perform well because they don’t like the school.

It’s also important for a parent to start talking to the child about their expectations, hopes, and fears for the upcoming school year, Wandira says.

Ddumba notes that many times when changing schools, parents want their children to study what they want, but not what the student wants.

He says a child joining a new school will find challenges, and so parents should first do a background check and ensure their child will fit in. 

They should check the notes of the former school and what the child will be studying in the next school, because if not on the same page, as it can cause confusion and poor performance. 

In case there is a big gap, Wandira says they should find a way to bridge it.

“If this is not done, in most cases this is what makes students lag behind whenever they are moved to a new school,” Wandira observes.

However, in some cases, he says it’s also good to change schools, especially if the child is used to the institution and they misbehave instead of learn.

Wandira explains that this happens when a student is familiar with the school to the point that they take advantage of some teachers who are not strict, or even sneak out of school and come back without being noticed.

If this is the case, he says, then moving the child to another school will do them some good.

“When moving to another school, he says, although there are many factors to consider, like the age of the child, they should be involved in the decision so that it doesn’t end up affecting them academically,” Wandira adds.

Their say;

Donald Munyeshuri, ICT teacher - Lycée De Kigali

Parents should ensure that their children have all the scholastic materials, this will help learners concentrate in school, thus better performance. Besides, working closely with teachers is important for general success of the student.

Aline Gihoza, Kigali resident

During this time, it’s important for schools to ensure there is strong communication between teachers and parents. This will help parents find out what is required of them as far as the new academic year is concerned.

Andrew Dushime, University student

Before the opening of schools, it’s essential that parents and children discuss goals and achievements that are expected for the new term.

Fred Ndahiro, Educator

During the holidays, parents should have been able to find out areas where their children had issues, especially when it comes to subjects. When schools open, discussing this with teachers can help improve the performance of the child.

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