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5 ways to help kids start the school year strong

(BPT) - The beginning of the school year isn't just about getting backpacks and school supplies ready. It's also a time when parents check to make sure their children are ready for success in their next classroom.

According to a national survey of K-8 parents conducted by the parent organization Learning Heroes, parents are uneasy when it comes to raising their children, with peer pressure and their children's happiness at the top of their worries. In fact, three of five parents say it is more important their child be happy and not overly stressed than to do well academically.

When it comes to academics, nearly all parents - nine in 10 - believe their children are performing at or above their grade level. In reality, however, only about a third of American students are performing at the level they need to be to succeed in school.

'As a mother of two teen boys, this disconnect is a heartbreaking wake-up call,' says Bibb Hubbard, founder of Learning Heroes. 'Parents are all in when it comes to their children's happiness and success, owning the responsibility for how well their children perform in school. It's clear that most parents lack an accurate picture of their children's progress, as they aren't getting clear, understandable and actionable information they need to best support their children's learning and growth.'

To help parents get their kids ready to start the school year on the right foot, Learning Heroes offers parents five easy actions they can take to help get a more accurate picture of their child's academic progress.

Start strong. As part of your back-to-school routine, help your child get ready for his or her new grade. You are the expert on your child. Check the Readiness Roadmap (https://bealearninghero.org/readiness-roadmap/), which Learning Heroes designed after hearing from many parents, to know what's expected of your child this year and how to support your child at home. Review your child's annual state test results from last year. If you haven't received the results yet, ask your child's teacher or school. Look at this information and your child's end-of-year grades from last year to see where your child is doing well and where more support is needed.

Partner up. When you meet with your child's new teacher, bring your child's state test results from the past school year and ask what they mean for the year ahead. Ask your child what he or she is excited and nervous about and why, and let the teacher know. Share your goals and expectations for your child's learning and growth for this upcoming year. Find out what's expected of your child and what you can do at home to help.

Make it fun! You know your child best and you can help make learning enjoyable for him or her. Read together to discover topics that interest your child. Find math problems in everyday life and turn it into a game. Practice subtraction, measuring and division when cooking together or while grocery shopping.

Celebrate hard work. Our attitudes about learning - called 'mindsets' - have an impact on how our children learn, how they feel about making mistakes and their self-confidence. Promote a 'growth mindset' at home to help your child see that hard work is what leads to success. Congratulate your child for the hard work and effort put into completing a task. This will help your child feel less nervous about taking on new tasks or subjects.

Encourage life skills along the way. When it comes to your child's potential and happiness, focus on the whole picture. Strengths like being able to communicate, problem-solve, show patience and act independently will help your child in school and life. Talk openly with your child about how he or she is feeling and reacting to situations at school, on the playground and at home.

Back to school is an important time for both kids and parents, and these five tips can help provide a strong kick-off to a successful school year. By taking actions - big and small - every day to support your child's learning, you can be a learning hero. Share your advice, stories, and questions using #bealearninghero. For more tips, ideas and activities (in English and Spanish), visit bealearninghero.org/super5.


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