By now, pretty much all students have gone back to school and are in the early stages of a brand new academic year. How your child starts these first few months will set the tone for the rest of the year. You can help make sure they get off to a good start with a few of these tips.

Family Dinners

Schools typically send out quarterly progress reports and report cards every semester on how your child is doing. On top of that, there are usually two regularly scheduled parent/teacher conferences. Unless you make the effort to find out more, those are only times you’ll get to hear about how things are going. If you have regular family dinners, you can hear about your kid’s day, every day. Granted, there’s likely to be initial resistance, depending on the age of your child. However, as it becomes a regular thing, that resistance tends to fade. Moreover, you can learn about more than just the academic aspect of your child’s day. You can learn about any social issues that might be taking place and catch it before it becomes a much bigger problem.

Get to Know the Teachers

Facts are facts; teachers spend almost as much if not more waking hours with your kids than you do. Don’t you want to have at least some kind of relationship with a person spending that much time with your kids? Now, parent/teacher relations are often painted as contentious, but they shouldn’t be and they certainly don’t have to be. See if you can do anything to help, or just make your presence known. It matters if the teachers know you care.

Get to Know Their Friends and Their Friend’s Parents

The only people who’ll have a bigger influence on your kids at school than their teachers are their friends. Of course, you can’t exactly choose their friends for them, but get to know what kind of friends your kid is making and voice concerns if you have them.

When you get to know their parents as well, you create a tightknit community within the school community of trust and support. Who knows, you might even make some new friends for yourself. On top of that, students that feel supported and a part of a community are more likely to strive for academic success as well.

Take an Interest in Homework

Most kids don’t like homework. It’s not really hard to see why; the concept is arguably a little unfair. They spent all day doing work at school and then they’re asked to do more work when they get home. Fair or not, it is an important part of getting good grades. Once you fall into a habit of either not doing homework, or not doing it well, it can be difficult to break out of it. Furthermore, if you don’t stay on top of it, as previously stated, you might not even hear about it until a progress report or report card, when it’s too late to do anything about it.

Offer to help your kids with their homework. Maybe have them teach it to you to strengthen their understanding. Set up a homework zone with good lighting or music or whatever helps them concentrate. Consider offering some kind of reward for completion.

In more extreme cases you might have to work something out with the teacher where you both will sign off on the kid’s assignment notebook, to make sure everyone is aware of what’s expected from your child each night. Save this for the most extreme of situations though as it robs your child of autonomy and creates a feeling of mistrust.

Get Involved

You don’t have to be the president of the PTA. However, making an effort to show your face at school functions shows the school, other parents, and most importantly, your child you are invested in their education. Volunteer to chaperone a field trip, pass out snacks at a sporting event, every little bit of help you can provide helps. It will also encourage your kid to get involved with extracurriculars as well, which is a huge bonus. Extracurricular cultivate new skills and new friendships; they are invaluable to students all throughout their academic career.