8 Things Every Student Needs on the First Day of School

What students need on the first day of school

by Teach Thought Stuff

What kind of supplies do students need on the first day of school? Well, that depends. But what are some universal ‘things’ students need to start the year off right with the best chance of being their best?

  1. Right munderstood

The beliefs and perceptions students have about themselves lead to a mindset that can propel them toward success or lead to self-fulfilling predictions of struggle and failure.

Take on challenges – difficult tests or projects or even content areas. There are three possible beliefs, and all three can lead to very different results.

Mindset 1: I believe challenges are a natural part of learning, and the experience of overcoming them is more valuable than any temporary feelings of failure or success.

Mindset 2: I dislike challenges, but will do my best and hopefully figure each one out as they come.

Mindset 3: I am not very good at overcoming challenges and try to avoid them at all costs.

The right mindset leads to everything else.

see more How to help your students develop a growth mindset in your classroom

2. A sense of community and opportunity

Students’ need to belong almost always outweighs their desire to perform well academically. They don’t need to be mutually exclusive, but if one has to go, you can guess which one the student will most often choose. Everyone needs someone. The first day of school is definitely one of those times. It is very comforting to look around an unfamiliar room or school to find a familiar face.

3. Safety and structure

At home and at school, students need not only structure, but also the right amount and form of structure. For some, this means a quiet place to do homework or someone to sit with them at night and talk about their day. Others need a different kind of structure – a creative and nurturing community of peers.

4. Confidence

Much cannot be achieved without confidence and a sense of self-efficacy. This can vary greatly from one grade to another, which makes it important for the student to show up on the first day of school believing that he or she can succeed. Of course, confidence comes in large part from – and ideally – having sufficient background knowledge and skills to complete assignments.

5. Adequate background knowledge and skills

Technically, a student can have significant deficits in knowledge and skills and still, with a lot of effort from both teachers, families and students, still have a ‘good school year’. In fact, it happens often. But it’s too difficult and doesn’t put the teacher, the school, and most importantly, the child in the best position to succeed in or out of the classroom.

6. sense of purpose

Why am I here? What will I learn? What can I do with what I know?

If their purpose can be reduced to ‘getting good grades’, most learning experiences will quickly reduce to ‘grades’ as well.

7. Curiosity

Curiosity can lead to a sense of purpose and the reverse is also true. Curiosity can be about knowledge, relationships and careers – the more curious the learner, the more open his mind will be.

8. A toolbox of tactics

As with ‘structure’, strategies are something that students often benefit from without knowing.

Reading strategies, note-taking strategies, conflict-resolution strategies, test-taking strategies—even what to do when being bullied or witness bullying. Strategies are ‘ways to make things happen’ and the more a student has in their toolbox on the first day of school, the more likely they are to succeed.