Back to it: reflections on the return after the holidays

Tutoring high school or college, your students may not be thrilled to be back after the Christmas break.  Yet, back we all are; the tutor shares some reflections.

About two years ago, I wrote a post about how January might be the toughest month for students. You’re not alone; numerous retailers and other businesses feel the same way about January. You have to go to back, expecting a tough time. How do you maintain your motivation?

Between my years at university and now, with my school-aged kids facing their own return to school, I’ve seen this scenario many times. What about a coping strategy, or else some perspective that may help?

In our house, we are known to do a little early “spring cleaning” over New Years. It’s nothing necessarily monumental, just a little purging and rearranging that hopefully improves day-to-day living for the next few months.

Very often, it’s hard to start a certain room: there’s so much that could be done. It looks like a summer project; over New Years, time is too short. Yet, summer is half a year away; do you want to spend the next six months with no improvement to a room that, presently, just doesn’t work? The initiation is what’s daunting: you know you really should get going, but where to start – and what to focus on?

I find that, no matter where we start, we often end up better by the end of the day than I had hoped for. An hour in, the process gains surprising momentum. Although the room may not get finished, it’s much more attractive to return to it another day, when it’s already much better.

Similar emotions might surround the return to school. The student feels that, long-term, the courses will likely be quite challenging. Yet, the real challenge is just getting started. Once a few days’ or a few weeks’ momentum has built up, going to class will likely be much easier.

For most biological entities, change is the hardest challenge. It’s likely not the difficulty of the courses that’s the problem; rather, it’s the transition from the holidays back to school. Yet, every student knows how to get onto the bus, head to campus, and walk into class.

To all you students, business people, and everyone: I hope the first day – or, more realistically, the first week – goes better than you might expect. The more depressing the prospect seems, the more likely you’ll be pleasantly surprised:)

All the best in 2015….

Jack of Oracle Tutoring by Jack and Diane, Campbell River, BC.

Why January can be the hardest month – and how to handle it

Tutoring, you notice which months are tough on students.  There are also your own recollections….

This year, Christmas came a few days after the public school students left for holidays.  As a result, their days off stretched longer at the back end.  Between Christmas and January 7, you get used to a new way of life that doesn’t include going to school.  It can be a hard habit to break.

Remembering my university days, January was always the toughest month for me.  The weather was grey and dismal.  It was so hard to face the cold, grey campus after the festive time of Christmas.  The courses were new, so you weren’t yet engaged with them.  Bottom line:  too many changes at once, against a dismal backdrop.

I found that when February came, I usually felt much better.  The weather was much better by then (of course we’re talking about Victoria, but up here is not too different).  As well, I’d developed some attachment to my courses.  Indeed, February was a much easier month.  Momentum carried me through March – in spite of its avalanche of new material.

Life is about habits.  Good or bad, pleasant or unpleasant, you’ll likely continue a habit.

Here, then, are some of my hints about weathering the month of January:

  1. Don’t expect much from any given day – but go to class every day, anyway.
  2. Remember that 45 minutes of homework is better than nothing, even if it’s not enough.
  3. Try, if possible, to focus on the main idea of what the instructor is discussing.  If you need to throw something away, cut out details.
  4. The days you really don’t want to go to class – but you go anyway – are the most important ones.
  5. Remember:  Everyone else is in the same boat.

Years ago, I recall seeing a student handbook on the ground.  When I picked it up, it opened to a page that showed the principal and vice principal pointing out at the reader.  They were smiling.  The caption read “Remember:  every day counts.”

Those two people understood about habits – and that attending school needs to be one of them.

Good luck this January.  I’ve been there and I know it’s tough.

Jack of Oracle Tutoring by Jack and Diane, Campbell River, BC.