Preparing for a Successful School Year and the Power of Sunday Sessions

Preparing for a successful school year requires a lot more than new folders, pencils, backpacks, and shoes. There is a whole other list of essential things life skills your student needs to succeed. This back-to-school list includes skills for:

school organization at the start of the new school year

✔ Time management

✔ Planning

✔ Organization

✔ Prioritization

✔ Getting started… and more!

Strong executive function skills often make all the difference between daily family stress over academics and helping your child become more independent and successful in school.

So we asked our expert Executive Function Coach and Program Manager Kathi Gould, M.Ed. to weigh in on the type of support kids need to cultivate their executive function skills at the start of the new school year.

In this blog, read Kathi’s insight, then learn all about Sunday Sessions, one of our favorite at-home hacks for helping your children start each week in a more organized fashion.

Don’t miss the bottom of this blog for a free printable to make it easy for your family to get started with Sunday Sessions…

Q & A with Kathi Gould, M.Ed., Educational Connections EF Coach and Program Manager

Kathi Gould, M.Ed. EF Coach
Kathi Gould, M.Ed.

What are some of the common executive function-related concerns you see from parents at the start of the school year?

Typically, we see concerns over how to help kids “re-enter” or prepare for a structured, time-bound, and scheduled arena after a long, easy summer. Suddenly,  upon returning to school, multiple demands are being placed on them, which taxes executive function skills that may already be lacking.

Parents tell us that this drastic shift overwhelms their children and causes a downward spiral.

How can a student’s disorganization set the tone for the school year?

hiking without a plan

Beginning the school year without a system in place for organization, time management, and study strategies can be compared to heading onto a hiking trail in the woods with no map, emergency supplies, or destination in mind. This is a recipe for disaster and quickly creates a deep chasm out of which it is difficult for the student to climb.

In addition, increased academic expectations, new classes, and demanding time-bound schedules make the transition back to school even more overwhelming.

How can an Executive Function Coach help students settle into their new school year routine?

Executive function coaches have a huge and positive impact on a student’s self-confidence and performance. Coaches are an excellent resource for students, and help from them is typically more accepted by kids than help from mom and dad! 

The EF Coach establishes a collaborative relationship with the student and facilitates a successful start to the school year. They can do this by helping students navigate their LMS (Schoology, Canvas, etc.), creating interactive calendars to help with mapping and time management, and assisting students in prioritizing assignments and submitting them on time. 

Coaches also help students to start strong by teaching them to form open lines of communication with their teachers right away so they can reach out as soon as a problem begins to arise before things escalate to an unmanageable point.

What is one way parents can help their kids stay better organized throughout the school year?

Making a weekly schedule can be an integral part of your child’s success. When parents sit down with their children (often on Sundays) to explore the week ahead, they position themselves as partners, which helps to create and maintain a cooperative and productive dynamic in the family.

During these weekly planning meetings, students and parents should include their commitments and tasks for the week and discuss what will be necessary to ensure everyone’s responsibilities and needs are met. The “We are all in this together” message is powerful!

Watch this video to see Educational Connections Founder and President Ann Dolin, M.Ed., explain how weekly schedule meetings, or “Sunday Sessions,” work for families and why they’re so effective.

How to hold a weekly schedule meeting or “Sunday Session” with your family:

  1. Set aside a few moments to discuss the week ahead with your child. This can happen during Sunday dinner or whatever time you decide works best for your family.
  2. Tell your child, “Let’s talk about the week ahead.” Then ask them, “Do you have any tests or big projects coming up this week?”
  3. At this time, ask your child to get out their computer and open their LMS (Schoology, Canvas, or whichever platform their teachers use for assignments).
  4. Your child can then write down all of their big tasks for the week.

By preparing for the week ahead, your child will go to school on Monday organized and aware of what’s coming up instead of just showing up blind to the week ahead.

Download free weekly schedule templates for your family

We’ve made it easy for your family to get started with your Weekly Schedule or Sunday Sessions this school year! Click below to download your free copy of our easy-to-use templates. This system works well for students of all ages. We made templates in two styles so your child can choose whichever one they like best.

We are here to help your smart but scattered student this school year

If at any time your child needs extra help with academics, organization, time management, and building executive function skills, the experts at Educational Connections are here for you!