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1. Insist on a good night's sleep. If your child has been staying up later during the summer, start enforcing an earlier bedtime two weeks before school starts. Kids need their rest in order to concentrate and follow the rules at school.
2. Check the backpack. Track down all the notes and permission slips that come home from the teacher, rather than relying on your child to give them to you. It can be embarrassing for your little one if he is the only student who didn't bring in a special snack or wear a certain outfit planned for the day.
3. Always go to open-school night. If you have older kids, don't assume it's not important this time around because you already know what first grade is like, Dr. Ramey says. You may miss out on key information, including how the teacher likes to be contacted. Your child (and the teacher) may also feel hurt that you skipped it.
4. Know the daily routine. Ask for a weekly schedule of gym, science, music, and art classes. You'll be able to help your child prepare for the day and ask more specific questions about what happened at school.
5. Talk to other parents. Because it's sometimes hard to know whether your child's perception of what's happening in the classroom is accurate, it's helpful to have a few parents whom you can always call to touch base.
6. Volunteer whenever you can. "Even though I work full-time, I go on field trips, help with class parties, and read to the class twice a month," Shinberger says. "Fortunately, I am blessed with a great boss."
7. Show you care. No matter how busy you are, let your child know that you're interested in what he's learning.