In a few weeks, children in the Wichita area will be grabbing backpacks and heading to class.
But there's still plenty of time to prepare. So while you're filling that backpack with school supplies, stock up on strategies to help your child succeed.
Here are some tips from area teachers for getting off to a good start this school year:
* Think positive. Children pick up on parents' spoken and subtle clues about the importance of school. Talk to your children about what they have to look forward to: new teachers, new and old friends, new things to learn.
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* Change those sleep habits. If your children are sleeping well past the time they'll have to get up for school, start making adjustments. Gradually ease them into an earlier bedtime, by about a half-hour per week, until you reach your target school-night bedtime. Have morning activities planned so they must be dressed and ready to go out the door.
* Designate a specific place and time to study and do homework , and keep school supplies in that area. When students have paper, pencils, a sharpener and other items on hand, they can sit down and get right to work. A computer with a printer and Internet access is a plus, and perhaps even an essential.
* Be savvy with supplies. Right now stores are offering their best prices on school supplies, backpacks and lunch boxes, so buy enough to last all year. Check supply lists carefully to make sure you know what your children should take to school, but also what they shouldn't. Items that seem more like toys — vibrating pens, erasers that look like rolling eyeballs, trading cards or notebooks that play songs — are a distraction and should be left at home.
* Get involved in your children's education — and stay involved. Attending parent-teacher conferences and special events, volunteering at school and talking to your children about school are good ways to support learning.
* Help your children learn time management. Assignment calendars help students get and stay organized. They're standard fare in middle and high schools, but even if your children's school doesn't require them, show your children how to use one. Writing down assignments, noting due dates for long-term projects and checking off items on to-do lists can ensure that your children stay on track at school.
* Read, read, read. Reading to, with or alongside your children is essential to their success. Some Wichita-area schools have "25 Book Campaigns" to encourage reading for pleasure; think about authors your children like, and keep a list of books they want to read.
* Exercise. Over the summer and all year long, encourage kids to be physically active. It helps keep bodies healthy and minds alert.