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How to teach academic and personal skills to excel in school

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Woman sharing tablet with young girls

To be successful in school, children must have an array of tools and skills. Here’s how you can foster those at home, according to the U.S. Department of Education.

  • MAINTAIN HEALTH: Make sure your child eats right and exercises. Provide a healthy afternoon snack before starting homework. Ensure vaccinations are up to date. Click here for a list of recommended vaccinations and the schedule in which a child should receive them.
  • ENCOURAGE READING: Start early by reading to your baby and young child. Keep a reading materials around your home. Let your child see you reading and enjoying it. (If you're uncomfortable with your reading skills, seek out a literacy program in your community). Click here for information about the "My Happily Ever After Begins with Reading" campaign.
  • INITIATE CONVERSATION: This give-and-take helps develop language and communication skills. It also lets your child know you care. So ask about classes while in the car or walking to and from school. Talk about food shopping, prices and health while at the supermarket. Discuss what you see on TV together. This makes conversation an everyday part of your life.
  • MONITOR TV AND VIDEO GAMES: Too much screen time cuts into important activities like reading, playing and talking with family. Limit your own TV watching because children tend to mimic their parents’ behavior. Watch TV together so you can monitor what your child is watching, answer questions and point out important information.
  • VISIT YOUR LOCAL LIBRARY: Get your child a library card. Make the library part of your regular weekly schedule. Teach your child how to respect and take care of library materials, as well as return them on time. Research topics that interest your child.
  • TEACH SAFE USE OF THE INTERNET: Spend time online with your child and help find appropriate websites. Pay attention to games they might download or people who may try to contact them. If you’re not familiar with computers, learn along with your child or check your local library for courses. For more information about internet safety, go to Get Net Wise.
  • ENCOURAGE RESPONSIBILITY AND INDEPENDENT WORK: Establish household rules. Make it clear your child is responsible for his actions. Develop a reasonable schedule of household jobs.
  • MONITOR AFTERSCHOOL AND WEEKEND ACTIVITIES: If you can’t be with your children, make sure they keep you informed about where they are, what they’re doing, and whom they’re with.
  • MONITOR HOMEWORK: Homework shouldn’t create a family battlefield. Children should know it's the first priority. Set a time each day for it, maybe after your child has had time to relax after school but before heading off to other activities. Set aside a quiet area and a clear table space so homework is free of distractions. Don't feel it has to be perfect before handing it in to the teacher. Say something positive about their work and maybe point out only one or two errors to prevent discouragement. For more homework tips, click here.
U.S. Department of Education

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