Preparing children for back-to-school doesn't end with buying them fall
fashions and "Lion King" notebooks.

"Parental involvement is the most critical factor in children's success in
school," said Duane Whitbeck, a University of Tennessee doctoral student in
child and family studies.

What is important to parents is important to children, Whitbeck said.

For example, research shows that "if the parent is involved in physical
activities, the child will become involved in physical activities, and the
same thing is true for reading or anything related to school," Whitbeck
said.

Whitbeck said parents can do the following to help a child with school
performance:

* Set a time and a place for studying before school starts.
Negotiate with the child to agree on the time. Have the child read or do
artwork at the set time to become accustomed to the routine. Be aware of
what others in the house are doing when the student is doing homework. It
will be difficult for the child to do his or her work if others are doing
something the child would rather participate in.

* Teach a child how to concentrate, especially if he or she is
restless. One way to do this is playing board games together, perhaps once
a week.

* Encourage reading. Move up bedtime slightly and include a book
time when the child goes to bed. Check on them to see how he or she is
progressing. At meals or other times, have him or her tell you about the
story.
* Go to school functions and teacher conferences. Ask the
teacher specific questions about the child's performance.

* Display children's academic efforts. It will let them know you
value education.

* Help a child select a hobby or talent to develop. This will help
children have constructive activities they can do during those times when
they think they don't have anything to do.

* Don't do a child's work for him or her. Let the child show you the
problem and work through it together.

* Limit television viewing and have a set bedtime.