Now that the school year is underway, students — and parents — are settling back into the school groove. Unfortunately, some students can also find themselves settling back into bad habits from previous years.

“It’s important to start the new school year off on the right foot,” said Dr. Nick Whitehead, founder and CEO of Oxford Learning. “The habits that students develop in the early weeks can stick with them for the entire year.”

According to Dr. Whitehead, the sooner that students make good school habits part of their daily routine, the more likely that they will keep these habits for the entire school year. The trick, he says, is to implement good school habits as soon as possible, or else bad habits can sneak back.


So how do parents and students implement good school habits for the entire school year?
Dr. Whitehead recommends that parents take out last year’s final report card and review the teacher’s comments.

“If there are school issues from last year that weren’t addressed over the summer, it’s likely that they will become problems again this year,” he says. “Knowing what the challenges are, and getting help with these areas before they become issues, is a great way to avoid repeating bad habits.”

Dr. Whitehead also recommends that parents reintroduce school-year routines such as limiting TV and computer time, setting bedtimes and wake up times.

Bad habits

Five habits that ruin a school year:

1. Oversleeping/Not Getting Enough Sleep. Students of all ages need sleep. Research has shown that during sleep, the brain files and stores information learned throughout the day. Dr. Nick Whitehead, founder and CEO of Oxford Learning, says that not getting enough sleep can impair a student’s ability to focus in class.

2. Too Much Screen Time. TVs, computers, and cellphones are distracting to students. Mounting evidence is showing that multitasking is not as good as was once originally thought. Accessing the Internet during homework time doesn’t necessarily improve students’ ability to work, and it can detract from their ability to focus on a single task for a period of time.

3. Procrastinating. From social lives to family responsibilities and extra-curricular activities, students can be tempted to leave homework until the last minute. Too many distractions, not following a schedule, or not using an agenda can put homework at the bottom of the priority list. According to, students can avoid last-minute scrambles and late-night cram sessions by making schoolwork a priority.

4. Poor Nutrition. Food is fuel—the better the quality, the better the performance. If children eat a sugary breakfast, or skip breakfast altogether, they run the risk of performing poorly in school. Without proper nutrition, students can tire out and lose focus. Students should focus on their teacher, not on their rumbling bellies.

5. Not Getting Help. According to Dr. Whitehead, one of the biggest mistakes that students make is waiting too long to seek help. Often it takes a call from the teacher or a failing grade before students seek support. At that point it takes more effort to correct the problem than if a student had asked for help at the “I’m-not-really-understanding-this stage.”

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