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How to help your child succeed in school

In the United States, the school year averages approximately 180 days. Once you begin to take out holidays, professional days and weather related closings, it becomes apparent that good learning habits must occur in the home in order for a child to be successful in school. Clearly, the hours and days that a child is not in school are just as important for learning. As a parent, you are your child's first and most important teacher. Statistically, when parents and families are involved in their children's education, the children do better and have better feelings about going to school. Following are some tips for how you can improve the likelihood of your child's school success.

• Encourage your child to read. Helping your child become a reader is the single most important thing that you can do to help the child to succeed in school — and in life. Most importantly, it is the key to lifelong learning. Make sure that your home has lots of reading materials that are appropriate for your child. If you think that your child needs extra help, ask his/her teachers about special services, such as after school or summer reading programs, or ask your local librarian for names of community organizations that offer free or low cost tutoring services.

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• Create a dedicated study area. Let your child know that you think education is a priority and because of that, homework has to be done. Have a special place for your child to study. A desk in the bedroom is nice, but for many children, the kitchen table or a corner of the living room works just fine. The area should have good lighting and it should be fairly quiet. Provide supplies and identify resources. Be sure to remove as many distractions as possible.

• Help your child use the Internet safely for studying. Let's face it: Technology has taken over. Long gone are the days of paper and pencil or a typewriter to complete homework assignments. Children have access to a wide variety of technology at a much younger age than previous generations. The Internet has become an important part of how we learn and how we interact with others. For children to succeed today, they must be able to use the Internet. Spend time online with your child. Help your child to locate appropriate websites. At the same time, make sure that they understand what you think are appropriate web sites for them to visit.

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• Work with educators. As soon as the school year starts, introduce yourself to your child's teacher. Sharing information is essential and both teachers and parents are responsible for making it happen. If your child has special needs, make these known from the beginning. If you notice a big change in your child's behavior, school performance or attitude during the school year, contact the teacher immediately to discuss it.

• Get — and stay — involved. Attend school events. Go to sports events and concerts, attend back-to-school night, parent-teacher meetings and awards events. Schools often send home lists of ways in which parents can get involved. If your schedule permits, look for ways to help out at your child's school.

• Develop a good test-taking routine. Successful test-taking is all about preparation. Be sure to give your child enough time to study the required material at his/her own pace. Most tests are designed and given by teachers to measure students' progress in a course. The results tell the teacher and students whether they are keeping up with the class, need extra help or are ahead of other students.

• Attendance is key. Attendance reflects on the children's overall achievement. The more effort and energy your child puts into learning, the more likely it is that he/she will do well. If your child isn't there, they may miss valuable information or instruction that could seriously impact performance in school. While occasional absences will occur throughout the school year, it is critical for a child to be "present" in their education in order to be successful.

• Make health a priority. A happy, healthy child is much more likely to do well in school than one who is tired or malnourished. Be sure that your child receives an appropriate amount of sleep each night and keep check-ups and immunizations up to date. Teach good eating habits and encourage your child to make healthy choices. Having children fill their brains with both nutrition and knowledge will set them on a path to lifelong learning and educational success.

Danielle Moser is a Reisterstown resident and can be reached at threepeasconsignments@gmail.com.

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