Tips for a successful school year

GreatSchools' 2009 Back to School Prep Tips
This Back to School season parents are confronting the most challenging economic climate in recent history and family, state and school budgets are tighter than ever. The good news? Parents have a huge influence on their child's academic success and can be highly effective champions of education at home and in their community. Supporting your kids' education doesn't even have to take much time, or any money. GreatSchools is encouraging parents to commit to three free, easy and effective ways they can dramatically increase their child's academic success:

  1. Read or talk 20 minutes a day with your child. Reading with children has been shown to positively impact skills and attitudes related to literacy development. Additionally, parents who speak to and encourage their children frequently boost confidence and are likely to have kids with larger vocabularies and higher IQs.

  2. Partner with your child's teacher. Studies show that when parents work with teachers -- by attending school functions such as Back-To-School Night and parent-teacher conferences, and by supporting classroom work at home -- their children are more likely to be successful in school.

  3. Volunteer at your child's school. Research shows that parents who spend time physically in their child's school are more likely to have engaged children who are successful academically. Involvement (i.e., chaperoning a field trip or joining the PTA) signals to children that parents value education.
The website features a Back to School Game Plan:
With these tips and others to help busy parents effectively prepare their kids to return to the classroom. Tips and resources include how to avoid the summer 'brain drain' by keeping kids involved in learning, a shopping guide for cost effective school supplies, and a 'Back to School Quiz' to learn how to ensure kids have a smooth start to the school year.

It shows a dramatic increase in parents' plans to volunteer in their children's schools this year. Here are a few of the key findings.

  • Nearly two in three parents (64%) believe that it is more important for them to volunteer at school now than before.

  • A majority of parents (53%) plan to volunteer at their children¹s school this year versus 44% last year - an increase of 20%. This volunteerism trend is most pronounced among African American parents, 60% of whom plan to volunteer - up from the 23% who say they volunteered last year.

  • Parents may still not know how best to help schools. 1 in 2 parents (49%) cite a lack of volunteer opportunities provided by their child¹s teacher or school as one of the main challenges they face to being more involved in their children's education.

  • The economy is driving parents to shop smarter for school supplies this year. With 74% of families expecting their economic situation to worsen or stay the same, a majority of parents (nearly 90%) plan to take cost-saving steps when shopping for school supplies. 57% plan to reuse old supplies and 26% plan to delay purchases until after school starts so as to only buy what's truly needed.

  • Parents may not be fully prepared for the start of school. While 93% of parents plan to buy school supplies ahead of time, only 47% of parents find out which subjects their child will be learning, only 39% have their kids start reading more often, and only 33% reduce their kids' TV/video game time.
About GreatSchools
GreatSchools is an independent, nonprofit organization that improves education by inspiring parents to be involved. Parents choose GreatSchools to connect with each other - to find the right schools, share stories and advice, and get their parenting questions answered. Over the past 10 years, GreatSchools has empowered and inspired millions of parents to support their children's education. In the past year alone, more than 35 million people - approximately one in three K-12 households in the U.S. - visited GreatSchools. With hundreds of thousands of ratings and parent reviews of schools nationwide, GreatSchools is the paramount parent-to-parent education community.

A Webby Award-winning site, is now expanding its reach and impact with its College Bound initiative, a new program that will provide structured online and offline training, mentoring and community resources to unlock the power of parents in guiding their children's success in school and beyond. GreatSchools is supported by numerous foundations and corporations, including the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Robertson Foundation and the Walton Family Foundation.

About Bill Jackson, Founder, President and CEO of GreatSchools
Bill Jackson is the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of GreatSchools, an independent, non-profit organization that empowers and inspires parents to participate in their child's development and educational success. A former teacher, Bill is a nationally recognized expert on parental involvement in children's education. Under his leadership GreatSchools has grown to become the leading national source of information about pre-school to 12 information for parents, with more than 35 million parents turning to Webby Award-winning GreatSchools last year alone.

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