There are several no-cost things that parents can do to help prepare their children for the first day of school and throughout the school year:

Invoke a positive attitude about school, have a supportive family, and make sure students are willing and ready to learn. Get students acclimated to a routine sleep schedule well before school starts. Begin going to bed early at least a week before school starts; keep up the schedule throughout the school year.

Emphasize reading in the community and in the home. Not only will you prepare your children for school, you will prepare them for life. Show a commitment to homework and projects the teachers assign.

Understand that nutrition is a big part of the day. See to it that your child gets a healthful, hearty breakfast every morning. Tell your child that school attendance is a requirement in your household.

Make sure your child is on time for school. Get a library card. It’s free. When you expose children to literature, that’s priceless.

Familiarize yourself with the student code and student handbook. Be proactive and not reactive; practice self-control. Avoid the school bully; inform school officials about problems.

Join the PTA or PTO, and attend the meetings.

Both open up a lot of avenues parents may not have considered for service to the school. Inquire about dues.

Sources: Dimple J. Martin, director of elementary reading/language arts for Birmingham (Ala.) City Schools; and Nez Calhoun, Jefferson County (Ala.) Schools spokeswoman.


(Chanda Temple Guster is a staff writer for the Birmingham (Ala.) News. She can be contacted at cguster(at)


AP-NY-08-07-08 1505EDT

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