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July 24, 2024

Where Every Family Matters

Back-to-School With Success

Establish important school and home routines for your kids as summer fades away. School success is a formula filled with positivity and effort.

Back-to-School with success means making a plan for a smooth launch. Read on to make that happen.


5 Ways to Help Your Child LOVE School

  1. Tell your child what you LOVED about school, not what you hated; in fact, spare him your unhappy memories.
  2. Be positive and tell him things you like about your child’s school and teachers.
  3. Participate in school events together. Make them important, fun, MUST-DO events!
  4. Take a genuine interest in the things he is learning at school.
  5. Show him how to socialize by reaching out yourself and modeling it. Your child makes friends when YOU do!

Source: Every Child Can Succeed by Cynthia Tobias (Focus on the Family; 1999)



WORRISOME KIDS: Ask, “What’s the Worst That Can Happen?”

“If your child feels stressed about being around others or even someone being mean to him at school, talk it out,” says Michael Parker, author of Talk With Your Kids: Conversations About Ethics — Honesty, Friendship, Sensitivity, Fairness, Dedication, Individuality and 103 Other Things That Really Matter (Black Dog & Leventhal; 2013).

Parker says a great tool to use in a hard conversation with your child is to ask, “What’s the worst thing that can happen?” Let your child envision and talk about the worst thing he might encounter and problem solve as you go deeper. Sometimes this kind of exercise can really help a kid (and you) in seeing how good things may actually outweigh the bad.

Stay positive for your child, too, says Parker. It does not help him to talk about anxiety, stress, worry, fears and all of the things that can go wrong if you want him to be a can-do kid.

SOCIALIZING 101: Teach Kids How to Meet Others

Introducing ourselves to strangers is hard. It’s like going to a party by yourself where everybody knows each other but not you. For kids, it can be even tougher. But in a 2015 study that tracked kids from kindergarten through young adulthood, it was found that kids with pro-social skills — behavior that is positive, helpful and friendly — tended to be more successful as adults than those who did well in subjects like reading and math but lacked the ability to get along with others.

Start teaching sociability at home by first teaching your child to introduce himself. He will be faced with a classroom full of kids he doesn’t know and he needs a skill to help him break the ice. Let your child know that we ALL feel embarrassed and uneasy at first, even adults. By teaching your child an important introduction skill, you will be empowering him with confidence. And practice, practice, practice. Relationship-building takes time!

STEP 1: MAKE EYE CONTACT and be friendly.
STEP 2: INTRODUCE yourself: “Hi, I’m Gage. What’s your name?”
STEP 3: REPEAT the name: “Nice to meet you, Sam.”
STEP 4: ASK a question: “How old are you?”
STEP 5: LISTEN and respond.
STEP 6: OFFER an invitation: “Do you want to play catch?”
STEP 7: INTRODUCE someone else.


Make Use of the Homework Hotline 

Sometimes your child’s not going to understand the homework on his plate … and neither will you. Enter Middle Tennessee’s Homework Hotline. In operation since 1990, Hotline volunteers help students by connecting them to the support they need and following through. Bilingual assistance is available, too. Kids can get help with math, science, language arts, social studies and more with volunteers standing by from 4 – 8 p.m., Monday through Thursday.

The Hotline: 615-298-6636


No parent can “run” a successful school year with her kids without establishing ground rules for success at home. Seriously! You have to be on top of this! Here you go:

  • NO playtime, screentime or phones until homework is finished.
  • If there is a lot of homework on your child’s plate, make sure you give him breaks (20 minutes on/20 minutes off). No need to turn it into drudgery.
  • Post each kid’s morning routine on his bathroom mirror so he can follow it and make it second nature.
  • Help each of your kids to set GOALS for the year. For instance, if your boy would love to get an “A” in science this year, talk about what he needs in order to accomplish that (develop a relationship with the teacher/turn in homework/study three days prior to any quiz or test and keep on studying, etc.). Make sure all goals are DOABLE, first.
  • Establish sleep expectations: No screens in the bedrooms / bedtimes based upon each child’s age & healthy nightly routines.
  • Insist that kids stay on top of their school planner or some kind of to-do list-keeping. Be sure to teach them how to review their planner/list as part of their everyday routine.
  • READ something! When a teacher assigns reading, kids can skip it or pretend they’ve done it because it can’t be “seen.” Establish that you will follow up with their reading assignments and DO IT. If they say they do not have any reading assignment, counter by asking that they read something — in fact, give them something to read that is interesting, educational and on their level.
  • Insist on chill-out time, too. Kids have energy to burn and need to blow off steam — make sure you encourage it (they’ll be surprised that you do after all of the drill-sargent behavior you’ve been displaying)!
  • Establish that EVERYONE eats something for breakfast each morning and determine what items each child wants to have on hand (Older kids may just want to grab a granola bar, for instance, but at least it’s something!).
  • Insist that kids keep their rooms and personal belongings (backpack) in order daily.
  • Many parents insist that their children make their beds each day. It’s a good habit to get into.
  • Establish a weekly meeting with all of your kids present to discuss what they are learning/doing at school. This helps to bond your family together so everyone knows what’s going on. Talk about teacher relationships / making time for friends / upcoming events and more.
  • Create a “Command Center,” i.e., a visual calendar where kids can see their after-school schedules, etc.

Source:; Secrets of Successful Students by Daniel G. Amen (Mindworks; 2005);



About the Author

Susan Swindell Day

Susan Day is the editor in chief for this award-winning publication and all-things Nashville Parent digital creative. She's also an Equity actress, screenwriter and a mom of four amazing kids.