A new school year is underway! By now you’ve gotten back into the swing of things by balancing your family’s busy schedule.  As we “Fall forward,” here are some suggestions to help ensure your child will be successful in the classroom. 

Read to Your Kids  Research shows time and time again that children whose parents read to them at a young age develop better reading and comprehension skills as they grow, making them better overall students.

Find Teachable Moments  Parents frequently don’t think of themselves as teachers, but we are.  Opportunities to teach our children are everywhere, from teaching a first grader how to count the change we get back at the supermarket, to discussing current events with a high school student.

Communicate With Teachers  Don’t just assume that because you’re not getting notes means that everything is fine.  You and the teacher are teammates sharing a goal – educating your child. It’s much easier to develop a game plan together.

Volunteer in Your Child’s Classroom  Not only will the teacher appreciate it, volunteering gives you a peek into your child’s everyday school life. That knowledge helps you deal with issues they face.

Teach Responsibility  Too many people get through life by blaming others for everything that happens to them. Successful people know they’re responsible for their actions. Teach your child responsibility when they’re young, including doing their homework and turning it in on time.

Discipline I don’t mean correcting bad behavior; I’m talking about developing a plan for completing assignments and preparing for tests, then being persistent in executing it. Just like athletes aren’t successful if they’re not dedicated to working out and perfecting their abilities, student won’t be successful if they’re not dedicated to their routine.

Effective Time Management is Critical  That basically means setting priorities (homework before play), limiting distractions (no TV while studying) and using spare time wisely.

Divide and Conquer  Don’t let homework overwhelm your child.  Cut up big assignments into smaller, manageable portions and let your child take breaks between.

Attitude Adjustment  Realize your behavior affects your kids.  If you’re a procrastinator, they’ll learn to become one.  If you don’t value education, neither will they. Parents are the single, biggest influence in their child’s life.

Find Balance  Schoolwork is important, but so is family time.  Extracurricular activities have their place, but so does just “hanging out.”  It’s your role to keep your child’s life on an even keel to maintain their mental health.

Look closely and you’ll notice that all of these things have one thing in common; they are all dependent upon how much time you spend with your kids.  Giving your time is the single biggest gift you can give your children, in or out of school. Teachers will quickly tell you it’s the best thing you can do to help ensure that your child is successful in the classroom. •

Keith Mitchell is a nationally award-winning education writer. He and his wife have three sons.