Tips For A Successful School Year

As summer vacation winds down, parents gear up to get their children back into the learning mode. After two months off, many worry that their children have forgotten basic facts and have let their reading, writing and arithmetic skills slide. They also wonder if their children are equipped to tackle the academic challenges of the next school year. Some parents would like to believe that buying school supplies and new clothes will make everything run smoothly -- but this is rarely the case. Dr. Andrea Pastorok, an educational specialist with the Kumon Math & Reading Centers, suggests the following tips for a successful route back-to-school:

Focus on the Positives

    * Talk to your children about what they achieved during vacation. The summer gives a child the opportunity to excel in athletics, explore the arts and form relationships with friends and family. Be sure to point out the skills that helped your child succeed and explain how these skills can be applied to school.
    * Reassure your child that you believe in his or her ability to learn. Don't put extra pressure on your child or make unrealistic demands, which can hinder the child's motivation and potential.
    * Play down your child's fears about the coming year and prepare for any potential problems that may arise.

Create an Educational Environment at Home

    * Set up a quiet, clean, smoke-free and well-ventilated area for your child to study with minimal traffic. Ideally, the area should be closed off to siblings, pets, and free of stereos, TV, radio, telephone, video games and other enticing distractions. Children should have a neatly organized area with proper seating and a solid flat surface on which to write, paint, draw or type
    * Provide your child with ample materials for school work, including pens, paper, rulers, scissors, erasers, colored pencils or markers. The study area should also contain an age-appropriate dictionary, thesaurus and encyclopedias, and children should be given easy access to newspapers, magazines, journals, books and classic literature to support their studies.
    * Develop a consistent homework routine early in the school year to help your child keep up and learn effectively beyond the school day. Homework is often the first challenge your child encounters. Set aside a common "study time" period at home for studying, reading and quiet activities, and do your utmost to avoid and curtail arguments during that time
    * Schedule time to help your children by answering their questions, explaining concepts, extending lessons and proofreading papers, reports and projects. For younger children, start a routine of checking what is in their bags to help keep their materials neat and organized.

Form a Partnership and Develop a Plan

    * Make time to get acquainted with your child's teachers and relay to your child any academic goals you discuss with the teacher. These partnerships will help ensure that the student, teacher and parent are all striving toward a common goal and will form a basis for resolving academic challenges that may arise during the school year.
    * Think ahead and plan for possible challenges. If your child struggles with a subject, secure additional help at the beginning before a problem becomes overwhelming. Some parents choose to spend time working one-on-one with their child, while others may hire an individual tutor or enroll their child in one of the many after-school educational programs, such as Kumon Math & Reading Centers.

Balance Your Child's Lifestyle

    * Avoid overbooking your child in sports, dance, skating, karate, music, second language training and other organized activities. One leisure and one educational activity a season may be sufficient.
    * Be there for your child by attending plays, field trips, school events, teacher meetings and homework sessions.
    * Give your child up to two hours a day of "quality time" to engage in learning, reading or even playing together.
    * Let your child play, be a 'kid' and develop creativity independently.
    * Try not to make your child fulfill "your" dreams by forcing them to be the 'gifted,' 'artistic,' 'athletic' or 'beautiful' children.

About Kumon Math and Reading Centers

Located in 45 countries and with more than three million students, Kumon Math and Reading Centers is the largest after-school supplemental education program in the world. For more than 40 years, Kumon has helped students strengthen math and reading skills, increase confidence and develop study skills that last a lifetime. Kumon's individualized, year-round programs are designed for students of all ages and skill levels. In the U.S. there are more than 1,000 centers with more than 100,000 students. For more information about Kumon, parents can call 1-800-ABC-MATH or visit