The long vacation is over. We’ve shopped for discount school supplies (including stylish masks?), thought about clothes, checked the bus schedule. It’s time to review a few things about studying, about how to learn and why. They’ve been said before, but bear repeating. Students need dedicated time and space at home. Quiet space, not in a family traffic lane. Fixed time slots: if no homework has been assigned, there’s always reading.

The household television shouldn’t be on all the time; the computer isn’t confined to games and cat videos. When in doubt, ask questions. Have I understood the requirements of this essay? Am I preparing myself for college: for getting in, for getting on, for getting financed? Should my kid be doing more, or doing differently? How can I, a parent, help? Teachers and guidance personnel welcome sensible questions.

Parents, grandparents, et al: encourage students; perhaps try being one. Tell students about what you learned that’s proved useful; what you wish you’d studied or learned back when, or later, or ever. Set an example: possibilities include adult education, a growing range of online and mixed-mode courses (see coverage in many issues of The Bethel Citizen), discussion groups (the Maine Humanities Council offers good ones), taking advantage of your local library and reading… Saying that education is important is one thing. Demonstrating that it’s important to you is another, and better.

Students: education’s compulsory in any case, so make the most of it. Futures, your own and society’s, depend on it. We’ve all seen the figures and analyses: generally speaking, educated people earn more as they learn more; they get the interesting and fulfilling jobs.

Whether you’re headed for college, the military, employment, whatever, the more you know, the better. Once you’re in high school, don’t choose all the easiest subjects. Advanced Placement and Honors courses are worth the effort. A C grade here or there may not hurt; a C average is not the way to get ahead. Take advantage of the extracurriculars: play an instrument, a game, a sport; join a club; volunteer for your community…

David R Jones is beginning his sixty-fifth school year, counting from kindergarten.

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