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by Dr. Susan Bartell

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Help your children have a successful school year by behaving how you'd like them to behave. Dr. Susan Bartell gives parents advice on how to set a good academic example.


mother reading to daughter; mom and daughter readingI love the crisp notebooks and brand new, no-colors-missing boxes of colored pencils of the new school year. However, what I enjoy more than anything else is the feeling that this year is another chance for each child to start fresh - with a new teacher, additional friends, and another opportunity to show herself that this will be the best year yet!

There are many ways to help your child have a successful year, but one of the most important is to consistently role-model the 'tools' of success. You are one of your child's most important and best teachers. Therefore, you play a critical role in helping your child have a truly successful school year.


By taking the following suggestions to heart, I'm confident you will help your entire family have a successful year - let me know next summer!


Be on time.

Teachers request timeliness, but when parents regularly run late, it reinforces that this is okay. In fact, it sends the message that another person's time (the one waiting for you) isn't as important as your own. So teach your child to be on time by living this way.


Show effort.

Of course you tell your child to work her hardest. But do you do so yourself? Whether you are completing a work project or cooking a meal, take pride in your own accomplishments, because it is important feel good about what you have produced, and know that other people will appreciate your effort as well. Your efforts won't go unnoticed by your child.


Plan ahead.

The school year includes the completion of long-term assignments, each of which requires careful planning. Life has many of these long term "assignments," too. When planning vacations, work projects, home renovations, or other big ventures, discuss these with your child, helping him see the importance of advance planning.



Kids learn many of their social skills by observing you. Therefore, when you are flexible with friends and family, compromise frequently, and reduce bickering and fighting to a minimum, your child will do the same.


Be polite.

You may be frustrated on a long line at the supermarket, or when a telephone operator is rude, but your child focuses only on your behavior. She will mimic your words and intonations in the classroom or on the playground. Thus, be aware of how you speak to people - no matter how aggravated you may feel inside!



Paying attention is one of school's - and life's - most important skills. So put down your phone, turn off the TV, and really listen to your kids, your partner, and anyone who is talking to you. Not only is it a good way to teach your child, but it will improve the quality of your life as well.


Organize your workspace.

Kids need an orderly space to do their homework, and so do parents. If you keep your space organized, your child will be more likely to keep his space tidy as well.


Be open-minded and curious.

Approach every situation and person with as little prejudgment, negativity, and ambivalence as you can muster. Be enthusiastic and optimistic whenever possible. (Fake it if you must!) These are important life skills to model for your child.



Parents who read are more likely to raise children who read. In particular, read to younger kids. Children who read will have better reading comprehension and overall better success in school immediately and over the long run.


Dr. Susan Bartell is a nationally recognized child psychologist, speaker, and award-winning author. Her latest book is The Top 50 Questions Kids Ask. You can learn more about Dr. Bartell at www.drsusanbartell.com.



For more back-to-school advice, check out what the experts had to say about How to Ease Your Child's Transition Back to School and How to Partner with Your Child's Teachers.

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