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NEWS | Aug. 10, 2010

Back to school success starts at home

By Elsa Summers Airman and Family Readiness Center

With the kids heading back to school, parents are preparing for the new school year as well, purchasing new school clothes, school supplies and, most importantly, setting the stage for school success.

But how can parents create an environment where a student can excel? What are some of the things parents can do to support their children's education?

Most experts agree that communicating regularly with teachers, kindergarten through high school, is one of the most important ways parents can support children and create an environment of caring. Back-to-school events, meet-the-teacher nights and parent-teacher conferences are all opportunities to connect with the child's teacher. After classes have begun, staying in touch with teachers through notes, e-mails or phone calls leads to a positive home-school relationship.

In South Carolina, parents with children in grades 8 through 12 will be asked to attend an Individual Graduation Plan conference. During this time, parents and educators chart out a course of study necessary for a student to successfully prepare for graduation and transition into a profession or post-secondary educational experience.

These parent-teacher conferences strengthen the home-school connection, which is important for student success regardless of the child's age. Here are some tips to help parents prepare for parent -teacher conferences:

· Whenever possible, try to attend the conference with a partner or spouse.
· Before the conference, review the work the child has brought home from school.
· Ask the child if there is anything he or she would like to be brought up.
· Write down ideas, concerns and questions and bring them to the conference.
· Leave children at home or with a babysitter if necessary.
· Be punctual. Teachers usually have several conferences scheduled in a row.
· Don't hesitate to ask lots of questions.
· Keep an open mind. Don't take teacher's comments as criticism and don't become defensive. A teacher's job is to do what is best for a child.
· Develop an action plan with the teacher. Schedule another meeting or communicate via phone or e-mails to complete it if necessary.
· Remember to thank the teacher for taking the time to meet.

For more tips on back to school success, visit the Military One Source website at