The start of each school year is a time for new beginnings. Hopefully, the summer has been fun and relaxing for everyone, but now it’s time to gear up for academic success. The entire family is affected by this change in scheduling and routine, so it’s essential to make sure everyone is on the same page. Whether your child is starting kindergarten or high school, there are some things parents can do to help their children start the year off right. 

Communication Is Crucial
At the beginning of the school year, most schools hold back-to-school nights or other opportunities for parents to meet their child’s teacher(s). It’s wise to take advantage of this and be proactive. If your schedule doesn’t allow you to show up in person, a phone call or an email is always an option. Sometimes parents fail to communicate with their child’s teacher until there is an issue. Often a problem could have been avoided if an open dialogue had begun at the beginning of the school year. As a parent, you know your child best. If you know that your child tends to be chatty when seated next to their best friend, informing the teacher can save a great deal of headache down the line. If you know that your child struggles with math, having a conversation with their teacher upfront can let the teacher know your child may need extra assistance. They may also be able to suggest some available tutoring opportunities. Show your support for your child’s teachers and ask if there’s anything you can do to help. Even if they don’t take you up on your offer of help, knowing you’re supportive and appreciative will mean a great deal to the teacher. Open lines of communication between parents and teachers are essential. Early and frequent contact with your child’s teacher(s) will set your child up for a successful school year.

Family Meals
The school year schedule can be hectic, particularly if your child is involved in extracurricular activities. However, that doesn’t mean you should entirely forgo family mealtime. Even if it’s only twice a week, sitting down together as a family for dinner has been shown to lead to stronger, happier families and healthier kids. Family meals are the perfect time to talk with your child about their day. The food doesn’t have to be fancy or the occasion formal; it’s really about the time spent together. Ask open-ended rather than yes/no questions. Listen to what your child says. Some children will readily tell you all about their day, while others may require prompting. 

Know Your Child’s Friends & Their Parents
Whether we like it or not, our child’s friends will have a strong influence over them. It’s important to get to know your child’s friends. Inviting your child’s friends over for a playdate or sleepover can allow you to see how your child and their friends interact with one another. Taking the time to play a game or do an activity with them can alert you to any issues that need to be addressed. Forming a relationship with your child’s friends can give you insight if problems arise later on. You’ll get to know which friends have involved parents and which ones don’t. It also doesn’t hurt to get to know the parents of your child’s friends. They can often serve as a source of support and advice or help out on days when you’re running late. Exchange contact information in case you need to reach out. 

Create Space & Time for Homework
Having a dedicated place in your home where your child can work on school assignments without being distracted is crucial. Set up a routine with your child for the completion of homework. Perhaps when your child gets home from school, they get a snack and relax for half an hour and then sit at the kitchen table to complete their homework. Whatever it is, the routine should be one that works for both you and your child and allows them uninterrupted time to focus on their studies. It’s good to be available to your child during this time so that they can ask questions and seek help if they get stuck. 

Organization & Routines
Just like with homework, setting up daily routines for how things are done in your home is helpful. Providing this structure for your child can help them be better organized and prepared for academic success. Activities such as packing lunches the night before and laying out tomorrow’s outfit can be part of your child’s daily routine. Ensuring they have a system of organization for their notes and assignments can help save them considerable time and energy. Helping your child establish healthy habits is a great way to set your child up for success. 

Following these tips doesn’t guarantee your child will ace every test. However, they will undoubtedly demonstrate to your child that you are supportive and value their education. Having a positive attitude about school and stressing the importance of a good education can provide your child with the necessary ingredients for a successful school year. 

Dr. Edward S. Thalheimer is the President and Founder of The Tutoring Franchise Corp. If you would like further information about how to help children who need educational assistance,  please go to