Back to school can be a stressful period and The Homeschool Gazette’s Senior Editorial Team know that from first hand experience. Therefore, we have put together a questionably scientifically proven list of tips to help you get into the school mojo!

Its completely not like we’re half dying ourselves.

Jokes aside, we sincerely hope that you will find helpful caveats, assurance that you aren’t alone in this, and confirmation that the struggle is real.

Enjoy!

Liz Koh

THG’s Editor in (mis-)Chief

Fun fact about Liz: 

65% of her weight consists of tea instead of water

  • What’s on my plate (describe your workload)

I’m doing 5 courses with The Potterschool, Pre-Calculus with Veritas Press, SAT prep with the Princeton review, self paced Integrated Chemistry & Physics, self paced Health studies, Chinese, A Levels General Paper, Law, Business, and Accounting.

For extracurricular I’m currently working towards an ATCL Teaching diploma for speech & drama, am part of a homeschooler run drama club as a curriculum planner, am part of my Church’s youth social media team, and as you can see am here in The Homeschool Gazette.

P.s. I love my editorial team mates here at THG – they’re the reason why I’m still hanging on and hustling ❤

  • 3 back to school survival tips

E n v i r o n m e n t

Spaces have the uncanny ability to unconsciously affect a person’s mentality and energy level. Don’t underestimate the importance of an aesthetic and calming study environment. If you need a pretty place to work efficiently, that’s totally legitimate. Especially so if you’re a homeschooler, invest in sprucing up your desk space. Plants and flowers serve as eye relaxers and decorations simultaneously – definitely recommend adding that in and killing two birds with one stone. Your work area reflects the state of your mind so keep it free of clutter. If you want to be really extra (like me), try diffusing essential oils; I personally love floral and minty scents.

(Everyone has their messy moments and uncluttering can be tiring, a tip to keep yourself going is to think “beautify and organise” instead of “declutter and pack”.)

M e t h o d

Find a study method that works for you and stick to it. This depends on an individual’s learning style so keep experimenting! What works for another may not apply to you. Highlighting text, summary notes, and flashcards are all great ideas to try out. Instead of going for something novel, opt for something sustainable. School can get rough and even the best of us fuse out. Therefore, it’s crucial that your study method is streamlined and easy enough to carry you through rocky moments.

C h i l l

Take some time off for yourself. Balance yourself, practice self care, plot out your week if that gives you a peace of mind. Learn to take a breather and be kind to your mental health. Recognise that school isn’t everything and in the end of the day, even if your grades are stellar but you’re falling apart, that’s a net loss. Be kind to thyself. If you need help with the art of chilling out, ask any high school senior/graduate and they’ll teach you. 

(to be completely honest, they’ve mastered the “aight imma head out” mentality mostly due to being too done with school)

On a wiser and more serious note: relax and enjoy your education journey.

  • Rookie mistakes: what NOT to do (insert personal story if any)

Don’t give up on yourself. Missed classes and late homework isn’t the end of the world, trust me I’ve been there done that. I’ve flipped out over getting 2 points less than 90, internally hanged myself for getting to class 5 minutes late, and crucified my sense of competency over not getting a specific award I wanted even though I already won four.

Now I’m not suggesting you flunk out and become a Ferris Bueller wannabe so please don’t come at me. But if you’re in a dip, don’t freak. As long as you eventually get back on your feet, there’s no shame in being caught in a fumble. In fact, the ability to pick yourself up after a hot mess will impress your teacher more than getting straight ‘A’s the entire year.

Keep in mind that the first step towards being forgiving to yourself is to forgive others. Realise that there may be more going on than seen on the surface. 

Attitude is what separates the struggling from the lazy. Struggling is not having everything going smoothly but retaining a can do attitude and constantly seeking improvement. Lazy is blaming and lowering the bar instead of rising up to it.

  • Iconic quote by Liz

“I got tea to sip, I got tea to spill, I got tea on you. Don’t (tea)st me.”

Jessica Shepherd

THG’s Senior Editor of Spotlight

Fun fact about Jessi:

I have a twin and she’s on the right ^

  • What’s on Jessi’s plate…

Well, I’ve graduated, so no more schoolwork–wheeeee. I’m slowly working through a C# 2D game development course on Udemy, I’ve been staffing for a public speaking and leadership mentoring organisation (Institute for Cultural Communicators) all summer in the US, and will be serving again at events in East Asia in the coming months–I’m also instructing in their online academy. I take part in vocal, piano, and choir lessons each week, and we have a Christmas recital coming up in November! I’m also involved with our worship group at my Church; I play and/or sing a few times a month.

Since both my siblings have decided to leave the country at present, I also have the household’s dishes and laundry all to myself, which is swell. Thank you, siblings ❤

  • 3 back to school survival tips
  1. Sleep. It’s basic, but also very healthy. Sleepyti.me is one of my favourite tools, it helps calculate sleep cycles so you can wake up refreshed and energised instead of very tired and bleh.
  2. Write things down (Including your three things). Anything important that I have to do bounces around in my head because I’m afraid I’ll forget it. Writing them down enables me to record everything I need to work on while focusing on three main tasks each day. Everything else can come later, and now, it won’t be forgotten.
  3. Move. You don’t have to run or workout everyday, but make sure you’re moving. If you’ve been sedentary for too long you’ll feel groggy and tired, so walking up and down a few times–especially if it’s outside–can give your brain a rest and a boost all at once.
  • Rookie mistakes: what NOT to do (insert personal story if any)
  1. If schedules don’t work so well for you, don’t be discouraged. Some people love them, but for others, it just feels cramped or stressful. Your brain is uniquely yours, so find what works for you.
  2. Don’t beat yourself up. If you have a slow day or procrastinate, it’s not a sign of failure; you’re probably stressed and trying to avoid further anxiety or strain. Find the things that feel too tall to tackle and take small steps.
  3. Don’t overload your time, it’s precious. I’ve found that taking on too many things overcrowds my mental space; I get stressed, especially when I never have even one full day at home to work on things. Extracurriculars are important, but don’t feel like you have to do everything all at once.
  • Iconic quote from Jessi:

“Don’t eat with that tone”

Eunicorn (Eunice) Tan

THG’s Senior Editor of Our Craft

  • What’s on Eunicorn’s plate…

Let’s just say that apart from a whole bunch of Korean food and oreo ice cream, there are many other less appetizing non-scrumptious entities on my plate.

I am entering my Senior year with the Potter’s School! (I cannot wait for this marathon to be over) I am taking 6 courses, 2 of which are college-level, and I am also serving as an editor on our online e-zine clay’s section of Theology and Worldview! And if you haven’t noticed yet (it is quite hard to deduce, to be honest), I’m also a Senior Editor here on The Homeschool Gazette, which I am so pumped about! 

In addition to my writing endeavors, I serve as the Outreach Director of Changing Lives Ministry, an online youth missions organization that holds weekly TPS chapel services and sends out weekly newsletters as well. As the Outreach Director, I help manage CLM’s social media and promote our chapel services.

In case you didn’t know, I am quite a big-eater with a ravenous appetite, so on top of the academic entrees, there is a whole lot of side dishes and desserts piled on top of my plate! Here they come.

I am involved in speech and debate, I teach in Sunday School, and I love participating in musical theater as well! I adore writing original songs and have started a YouTube channel where I post my creations! I also play worship at my church, and, as the cherry on the top of these delicious foods, I am currently college searching! College applications are the best dessert, if I may say.

Detected a hint of sarcasm there?

Brownie points to you if you did.

Just kidding, I love all this food on my plate!… ;(

Oh! And I’m currently working on my debut novel! I know. Not a big project at all. xP

  • Eunicorn’s 3 back to school survival tips
  1. Rest is important!!
    1. Do NOT ever overwork yourself. Sufficient sleep and breaks are important.
    2. Personally, breaks get me distracted, so other than meal times, I work all day like a drunk bulldozer but I drop everything and stop no matter what by 4:30pm. Whatever work I did not complete by then will be completed tomorrow, and if necessary, I will wake up even earlier so that I would achieve more. Go to sleep latest by 11pm (probably earlier would be good) and wake up earlier.
    3. So, try to set a boundary for yourself! It could be any time which fits your schedule the best. This 4:30pm rule has helped me get so much more done and kept my mind clear and focused. It also allows me more time for extracurricular projects.
    4. This, without question has been the best piece of advice I have ever received which helped me be more productive and less stressed (which is definitely NOT a problem you might be facing xD). It was advice given to me by an elder student in TPS. So, thank you if you’re reading this! You know who you are!
  2. Eat fruits & nuts.
    1. Gotta work in those goods if you want to produce any, my friend.
    2. And please don’t just eat junk food.
  3. Schedule the entire week’s activities one week in advance.
    1. I, for one, have a very passionate, intimate relationship with my beloved planner, who even at this very moment, is sitting next to me, looking as spritely as always.
    2. I make it a habit to schedule my entire next week of homework, outings, activities, and appointments on Friday or Saturday before the next Monday even begins. This lifts a great burden off my mind and frees me to have fun over the weekend. This way, I don’t need to worry about missing any deadlines or forgetting about an assignment.
    3. Try to schedule exact time intervals the day before, detailing from what time to what time you will be doing things. (Eg. 9-10:30am Anatomy & Physiology project, 10:30-12pm Read Shakespeare) And schedule in meal times and breaks as needed.
    4. Time to get your own best-friend planner too!
  • Rookie mistakes: what NOT to do (insert personal story if any)
  1. Do NOT watch a movie, play a game, and read comics from 10-3pm and work on a paper from 9pm-3am… just DON’T. 
  2. Do NOT get overwhelmed by the whole list of things you need to get done. Concentrate on each task one at a time. And soon enough, you’d have tackled them all! Keep thinking: Step by step, I can do this.
  3. Do NOT do unimportant stuff before the important stuff. Basically, know your priorities and work accordingly.
  4. Do NOT neglect exercise! If you tend to be a couch potato like me who lays there baking in the oven, pouring through books without inching off your couch just for a ray of sunshine or just to shed a milliliter of sweat… you have to change your ways, friend. Science shows that exercise improves mental concentration and overall happiness, so get sweating already! Gotta get me endorphins.
  5. Do NOT overload your day with one particular subject or project, if possible. Sometimes, I find that if I do too much math for hours on end or too much reading for hours on end, my mind grows foggy and I feel like I’m going to faint from exhaustion. Space it out! Alternate subjects. Do some math for about an hour, then switch to English, and so on. And when you get back to that subject after doing something else for a while, you’ll find your mind is a lot fresher and you are ready to tackle it even better!
  6. Do NOT skip morning devotions! It’s weird but true that each day I spend time with God before doing anything else, I am able to get more done and stay more fulfilled because I have set my focus in the right place. Remember who you’re working hard for!
  • Iconic quote by Eunicorn

“Life is likened to an oreo ice cream sundae. The sweet pops of oreo chips are the joyous moments, the sprinkles are rare friends, and the empty cup, upon realizing you had finished all the ice cream, is exam week.”

  • Fun fact about Eunicorn

I love unicorns.

Betcha didn’t see that one comin’.

Alan Jambulatov

THG’s Senior Editor of Lifestyle Column

Fun fact about Alan: 

He has a literal addiction to doing more and sleeping less. 

  • What’s on my plate: 

I am currently taking 4 AP Courses with The Potter School: AP French Language and Culture, AP Calculus, AP Macroeconomics and Microeconomics, and AP European History. I am also taking 4 other courses with Northstar Academy. Plus working on university applications and test scores. 

In terms of extracurriculars, some of my most time consuming/prominent ones include: helping found and continue to help an organization for people with special needs, I am running my own company, speaking at english conferences across the city, working with a company based in Hong Kong to monitor companies in Kazakhstan, and acting as the senior editor of the lifestyle column at The Homeschool Gazette. 

  • 3 back to school survival tips

As a highschooler, I am faced with a multitude of deadlines, exams, and extracurriculars pulling at my existence from every imaginable angle, so these are some things that have worked for me, but might or might not work for others.

  1. Time. Okay, over the years I’ve realised that there is no such thing as being “good” in a subject, even though you might see students flying through school without a breeze and seem to have it all together (I promise you that almost always that’s not true), it is simply how much time you put into something. So if you don’t understand a subject, don’t think it’s because you are not “good” in that sphere, you just need to give it more time to really understand it. For instance, when I first started TPS I jumped right into one of the hardest writing courses–which I only realised halfway through the year–and on the first assignment I submitted I got only 72% (the worst grade I had ever gotten, so it was bad, I spent literally days figuring out what I did wrong and how I can make up the grade. . . yeah yeah idealist problems). However, for all the other assignments, I started to spend up to 8+ hours (not including the time complaining, yelling at random assignments or word choice, or literally binging on snacks way past 1 am) until I really understood it (btw, find yourself friends who can help as well, it will save you and help you point out mistakes you would have never seen) and ended the semester with an over 98% grade in the class. So time is crucial, not necessarily how “good” you are at a subject. 
  2. Motivation. Find what motivates you and apply it to your studying. There is nothing worse than having to go through a class and have absolutely no motivation and feeling like everything is busy work (though umm with chemistry there is no escaping it accept with tons of chocolate and ice cream. . . ). Personally, I am motivated by a challenge, so over the years I have taken difficult courses because otherwise I will not be as motivated to do an assignment. I am also pretty competitive, often I’ll try to have the highest grade in class–mhmm yup, not recommended though. Plus, I am constantly thinking “If I am not doing the best of my ability, there is someone in this world doing it better than me and furthering themselves when I am stuck in one place” which helps to keep me going. Or you know whatever works for you?
  3. Caffeine, caffeine, caffeine. Quote from a friend who is fighting in the trenches of school with me which I have found immensely true “who are students if not creatures fuelled by the God-sent drug called caffeine” (full disclaimer we do not support any consumption of illegal goods, but luckily for us caffeine is not only legal but is available in abundance). Find a steady source of caffeine. Whether it is tea (matcha–personal favorite–, black, etc.) or coffee–try not to do energy drinks or sugar since they crash too fast and are not great for you, though there are exceptions. . . –you will need caffeine to survive. I go through way too many cups or tea and/or espresso shots a day, but they honestly really do help when you have a lot to do but are a little tired or you can tell you are losing interest or dozing off. Caffeine will save you.

Bonus: Find a way to relax and exercise. You need rest and you need to be healthy to survive highschool, so take care of yourself and try to relax every so often. Like some things I do, I take 15-20mins MAX naps (I know, I know what are naps if they are not at least an hour long), I’ve come to a point where I can fall asleep in seconds and wake up refreshed 15 mins later (honestly, I feel like I’ve reached old man level in that sense). Or when I had a long day and my mind won’t stop running, I might read a book or watch a TV series before heading to sleep. Whatever works for you. Plus, try to have an exercise routine, it will help with thinking and just overall boost your immune system so you never have to postpone assignments. 

  • Rookie mistakes: what NOT to do (insert personal story if any)

Okay okay this is going to sound extremely clicheé and I’m sure you’ve heard this a ton, but time management and planning ahead is super important. So I am most definitely guilty of procrastinating until the very last second where you get a sudden rush of adrenaline and guilt because you know you can never finish everything on time, but end up doing the impossible (largely thanks to caffeine and a copious amount of sugar induced snacks) and then crash afterwards like after running a full-on marathon. However (yup there is one), try to figure out a schedule and routine and stick to it. 

The best and worst thing with online school is that you get to make your own schedule. When done right, it will allow you to have much more time and it becomes way easier to finish everything. What I try to do is see the workload at the start of the year and try to adjust for it and know which days to focus on specific subjects. For instance, Mondays I would work on AP French for the first half of the day and AP Calculus the second half, plus try to add studying or extra homework in between. That way I know what I have to do and if I stick to it I can easily manage the rest of my time. 

Also, try to have one day where you completely forget about school. I know I know even though I am a self-proclaimed study-a-holic with a caffeine addiction too deeply imbedded in my identity to ever let go, I also need to find out the mysterious, elusive idea called ‘a life’. You’ll be tempted to just “do something tomorrow” or “I’ll catch up over the weekends” don’t fall into that trap, everyone needs rest or a distraction from the torment that we spend already most of our waking hours on. Go out, hang out with friends, do something stupid that you will most definetly regret later but was so worth it. There are ample ways to relax. Of course there are weeks where that simply doesn’t work and that’s fine, but find your escape. 

Last thing, this is very important especially in the insance stress-inducing competition we call university admissions, find ways to express your passions. always make time for the things you love. When I first started highschool, often times I would sign up for every extracurricular or every difficult class (even though I often did not enjoy it) and there are times to experiment, but if you know what you want, go for it. Don’t think about whether it is going to look “the best” but do what you love and that passion will always shine through (ugh cheesy right). People who I meet that are simply doing what they enjoy rather than what society or your brain deems as beneficial, they live much happier and fulfilled lives, plus, they generally achieve great things in their sphere. 

Overall, highschool is a crazy roller coaster that tests almost all of your abilities and we all have our ways of getting through (caffeine, undiluted drive of willpower, screaming into your pillow, etc.), but find your escapes, do what you love, and try to be diligent but also know how and when to let go. Oh also this is the time to take risks, you have a roof over your head and food on the table no matter what happens, so go be you. Plus try not to worry too much–lol just kidding I am terrible at this one but it seemed like a decent way to end this. . .

  • Iconic quote???

“Busy, tired, but good, how about you?” xD Idk but friends will get this 


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