Summer is finally here and I’m assuming, after a long year of hard work, your kids are glued to their couches (or beds) with Netflix running, while constantly refreshing their social media feeds. Believe it or not, it’s never too early to start thinking about the new school year and here are three easy, yet important, steps to take over the summer to ensure your student – no matter their age — starts the new school year with intention and energy!

Step 1: Reflect

Take time to think about the past school year. What went well? What didn’t? Did they accomplish the goals they set in September? If so, what enabled them to do so? If not, how come? Reflecting is an important step to take before making a plan to move forward. It allows your child to see their progress, mistakes, and evaluate their own life.

But they shouldn’t get stuck there! Don’t let your student wallow in some of the negative feelings that may arise. Yes, their teacher may not have been their favorite and, yes, they could have spent more time in the library, but this isn’t the time to get down on themselves. However, it is important they remember the feelings that do arise because they can be fuel to ensure they do better next time in order to avoid feeling like this again. OR if they did have a successful year and feeling confident, reflecting allows them to think about how good this feels and how they will want to continue to have positive experiences at school. Ask them to jot down a few thoughts that defined the past school year for them in different areas–schoolwork, friendships, health, activities, etc. Take 15 minutes to do this exercise with them and then move on to how they’re going to reset.

Step 2: Reset

This is the time where your child should be planning for what’s ahead. Looking over what they wrote down when reflecting, what changes will they need to make? Do they need to commit more time to studying? Maybe find a better way to balance their social life and their schoolwork? Did their mental health suffer and they realized they need a better way to seek help? Have them write down in detail some of their commitments, as well as HOW they plan to execute the changes. It’s important to emphasize this should not be living in their head and that writing it down is imperative. Try and think of any roadblocks that may come up that may deter them from their plans (social obligations,  most prevalent). What will be their strategy to use when these inevitable barriers do arise? If necessary, they will still have an opportunity to change their school experience and properly resetting their mindset and going back to the plan will help them get there.

Step 3: Recharge

This is the step that most students are living in right now having just completed a long academic year. Let them decompress, sleep in late, binge on Netflix, and Snapchat with their favorite filters. While these are great and fun, make sure your child is recharging with intention to avoid Netflix and browsing social media dominating their summer. What do they need to motivate themselves to return to school ready to conquer? For some, this may be getting back some physical energy (aka working out and eating well–despite the urge to eat junk food while watching their favorite shows). Consider a new activity, such as a sport, volunteering, developing a new hobby, or making new connections.

All of these options will create the opportunity to get your child out of the house, moving and having fun. For others, it may be re-centering themselves and practicing mindfulness or other stress reduction techniques to better improve their mental health. If needed, this can be the time to get your child additional help academically, mentally, physically, etc. to ensure the new academic year is off to a good start. Taking the time to relax and recharge is important, but drifting too far off their routine will make it harder to transition back when school does start. Make sure they stay active, social, and healthy (physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually)!

Imagine them as a battery and by the end of the school year, they are now drained. Encourage them to think about what drained them the most and how they felt. How can they recharge their battery intentionally so they are fully charged for the coming year and what can they do to stay charged?

Reflect. Reset. Recharge.

These three steps will allow your student to start off the new school year with intention and energy. I’m a big advocate of writing things down. Have these steps live in the same spot on their phone or notebook so they can also refer back to them when needed. Make a copy for yourself so you can be their biggest cheerleader, keeping them accountable and motivated for a successful, new school year.


  • Christina Broderick

    School Social Worker

    KIPP NJ TEAM Academy

    Christina Broderick is a Licensed Social Worker and a Certified School Social Worker in the state of New Jersey, who is passionate about the fuse of mental health and education as it relates to overall student success. She is a first-generation American and first-generation college graduate, earning his Bachelor’s in Psychology from La Salle University, with a minor in Spanish and her Master’s Degree in Social Work from Boston University. She has spent her career working with disadvantaged populations, and has covered the entire education spectrum, K-12 and higher education. She hopes to continue to raise mental health awareness for students and communities, breaking down barriers and doing her best to make an impact on student and youth development.