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This month, I would like to share an article from my family-life colleague, Karla Belzer, to help families prepare for another school year.

As the end of summer draws near and school supplies pop up in local stores, parents and kids alike start focusing on the new school year.

While the new year brings a level of excitement and anticipation, parents wonder about how to make the new school year successful for their children.

All parents want their children to become successful, caring adults. Similarly, many parents want to be involved with the formal education of their children. Sometimes, however, they don’t know where to start, when to find the time or how to go about making positive connections with the school.

Studies have indicated that children whose parents and/or other significant adults share in their formal education tend to do better in school. Some benefits that have been identified that measure parental involvement in education include:

— Higher grades and test scores.

— Long-term academic achievement.

— Positive attitudes and behavior.

— More successful programs.

— More effective schools.

One of the best ways parents can become involved in their child’s school is to develop and maintain a positive relationship with their child’s teacher.

The most positive communication a parent can have with a teacher is communication that says, “I care about my child and I value school.” Parents and teachers are partners in student development. A school community is built on relationships established among children, school staff members and children’s families.

Tips for creating a positive relationship with your child’s teacher:

Meet with your child’s teacher in the fall. This is an excellent time for the teacher to learn more about your child as an individual — his or her special needs, outside activities, health and home study habits.

Look for the positive. Teachers need to feel appreciated for the job they do. Share with your child’s teacher something you particularly appreciate regarding the teacher’s role in the academic and/or social development of your child.

Express your appreciation by sending a note of thanks when something special takes place in the classroom and your child is involved.

Let the teacher know that you want to support the work that is being done in class. Ask for suggestions for expanding school activities into home activities.

Be willing to participate in or set up a conference when you or your child’s teacher feel a special meeting is needed, such as:

— Your child’s grades take a dramatic plunge.

— Your child receives a grade much lower than he/she feels is deserved.

— Your child does not seem to have any homework.

— Your child seems to be deeply upset about something that happened at school.

Setting the stage for a school year filled with progress, achievement and ultimately success starts with a solid parent-teacher relationship.

The University of Illinois Extension has an excellent resource, "Helping Children Succeed in School," featuring information on parental involvement in school, school stress, study habits and other information for student success.

For more information on how to make this school year a success, check out the U.S. Department of Education’s "Countdown to School Success," featuring a month-by-month guide to help your child thrive this school year.

For more information on family-life-related topics and programs, visit our local University of Illinois Extension website at or contact Chelsey Byers Gerstenecker at 217-333-7672 or