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7 Awesome back-to-school practices you should try this year

Caroline Duda has years of experience as an SAT tutor for Varsity Tutors. She earned an MFA in Creative Writing from University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

As your student prepares to head back to school, implement the following ideas into your family's routine to ensure success.

For many families, late August and early September represent a scramble to acclimate to the school year once more. People with children in the middle or upper grades may implement practices they have relied on in the past (with or without success), while individuals with young students may still be perfecting their back-to-school routine. Whatever your particular situation may be, whether you hope to raise a B to an A or simplify a rushed morning, below are seven practices to try with your family this year.

1. Set short- and long-term goals

Goal-setting with your child is an excellent method to ensure that you and she share expectations for the school year ahead. Develop goals that are attainable, both now, in a week, and in a month or more. Choose a manageable number of goals, rather than too many, and record them for future reference.

2. Practice new routines

For younger students, change can be one of the most difficult aspects of the back-to-school experience. Practice crucial routines with your child, such as how and when to collect her lunch from her backpack. If she understands her teacher's procedures, she will be better able to focus on academics during the first weeks of school.

3. Create a large calendar, complete with color

The school year can be hectic. To better manage your family's time, consider posting a large calendar in a visible location. List assignments, extracurricular meetings and performances, etc., each in a distinct color. Older students can do this themselves, and a color-coded calendar offers an immediate glimpse of your commitments.

4. Explore an unfamiliar after-school activity

Foster curiosity in your student. After all, fields like history and science rely on it. If your child expresses an interest in an activity, pursue it. (Remember, too, to avoid over-scheduling.) Introduce a reluctant student to new pastimes, whether they are in academics, arts, athletics, etc. Better yet, aim for a combination.

5. Designate a schoolwork space

Invite your child to create a personal space in which to complete her homework. Ensure it is in a quiet location, and equip it with the necessary supplies: erasers, highlighters, paper, pencils, pens, etc. Your student may feel more responsible for her homework if you treat it as a serious endeavor.

6. Commit to assisting your student with her homework

This is an important distinction. Homework is a critical component of your child's curriculum, as it enables her to hone academic skills and master subject matter. When your student struggles, and she inevitably will at times, resist the urge to do her assignments for her. Instead, helpfully guide her efforts.

7. Position education as a rewarding experience

If your child is in middle or high school, take note; you can greatly influence her attitude toward school. The transition to a new grade can be stressful, as can an approaching event such as the ACT or SAT. Speak with your child about her fears, and ensure she feels capable and supported.

Good luck with the 2014-2015 school year.

For more tips and strategies to help your student succeed in school, visit www.varsitytutors.com.

Photo credit: Ridofranz/iStock/360/Getty Images
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