Learn About the Curriculum

The No Child Left Behind Act has made standardized tests more high-stakes than ever. Help your child do her best by understanding what she is expected to learn in her grade level. Because each state has different standards, the National Education Association recommends contacting the state department of education, the school district, or your child’s school for a copy of the standards.

The NEA suggests finding out the goals your child’s teacher has for the year and how students will be tested. In addition, look for ways to help your child develop academic skills at home. Younger children’s literacy skills, for example, can benefit from playing reading and rhyming games with parents. More advanced readers should be encouraged to talk about what they’ve read. For additional ideas, ask your child’s teacher to recommend educational books, websites, games, or crafts.

Get Involved

Find a way to be more involved in your child’s education this year. It might be volunteering to help in the classroom, or it could be as simple as talking with your child each day about what he’s learned. Set the stage for sharing by telling your child highlights of your day, Wherry advises. “Just by asking and paying attention you send a message that you think school is very important.”

Wherry recommends asking children to talk about the best part of the day, whether they learned anything that surprised them, and whether they asked good questions in class.

Plan Healthy Meals

Keep nutritious food on hand for breakfast or make sure your child eats breakfast at school. Students who eat breakfast focus better in class, perform better on tests, behave better, and are more likely to maintain a healthy weight.

Find out how to obtain a copy of the school menu and pack lunch on days the school serves meals your child doesn’t like. If your child packs her own lunch, establish guidelines about what she is allowed to take. Consider limiting sugary soft drinks or drink boxes and junk food with low nutritional value, such as potato chips. In addition to fruits and vegetables, nuts and low-fat cheese make healthy snacks.

Build a Parent Network

You never know when you might need to call on other parents for help or advice. Seek them out at school events and parent group meetings. If the school publishes a family directory, write notes in the margins with information about parents you’ve met.

Compile a list of names, phone numbers, and email addresses to coordinate carpooling and emergency baby-sitting. Keep a copy at work so you know whom to call when your schedule changes unexpectedly.