Top Seven Tips for Back-to-School Success

Parents play a critical role in their child's success.  These seven tips from explain how to help your child set and achieve goals for the new school year.

1. Set 30, 60 and 90-day goals - with your child.  What's most important for the first 30 days?  Ask your child what they plan to accomplish and help them make a plan to get there. Creating a regular routine with time for homework, chores, outside activities and free time is critical.  Help your child tweak their schedule for the best way to spend their time.  At the end of the first 30 days, review what worked and what didn't, and then discuss the 60 and 90-day goals.   
2. Write it down.  Don't just talk about goals.  Have your child write them down.  The act of writing down goals reinforces the message.  According to John Bishop, author of the workbook, Goal Setting for Students®, "There are two great benefits to writing down goals. First, it is implanting in their minds a gentle, yet important, message that they are responsible for their day.  Secondly, this exercise teaches them that they cannot simply blame others for their lack of effort."

3. Watch your language.  How do you talk about school with your child?  Do you praise their teachers and tell your child they can do it?  Or do you complain about how hard it is and that the teacher is expecting too much?  Avoid "bummer words" like no, can't, won't, never, maybe, and if.  Focus on motivating words like yes, can and will.

4. Avoid excuses.  Teach your child the importance of taking responsibility and minimizing excuses.  Help them create a plan for big projects, breaking them down into manageable pieces with deadlines for each piece.  Avoid a last-minute crisis by planning ahead and having supplies on hand.  Bishop says, "Don't find fault.  Find a solution."

5. Set up rewards that fit your family.  As a family, discuss the best ways to recognize your successes.  Be sure to recognize effort not just results.  Want to encourage reading?  Create a reading log, and go bowling or go for ice cream once you've reached a certain amount of reading time.  Mini-rewards for regular effort can often be more effective than one large reward for the entire school year.

6. Model goal-setting.  What are your goals for the next month and the remainder of the year?  Track them - and show your child how you do it.  Discuss with them where you are and what obstacles you have overcome.  This discussion can easily lead into their goals as a student. 

7. Eat together.  Take time to sit down together as a family, and give each member the opportunity to talk about what's working and what's not working.  Strategize solutions - with the TV turned off.  A common reason families don't eat dinner together is conflicting schedules so if the dinner hour doesn't work for you, consider a family breakfast.  Even checking in for 15 minutes over cereal can provide a much-needed time to connect.

With a few simple steps, parents can get their children off to a good start for the school year ahead.

Accent On Success® is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to helping students achieve success in the classroom and in life.  For more information on the Goal Setting for Students® workbook, which gives students a roadmap for success, visit

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