Parenting In Focus: It is that time again …

That’s right: school is about to begin. What have you done to help your child be ready?

Some parents don’t think there is any need for them to be involved in their child’s education. If this is their view, they’ve done the right thing simply by doing nothing.

Other parents feel they have a responsibility to encourage their child to be ready; they read books together, practice learning math facts, talk together about ways to be ready and encourage their child to be prepared for a really good school year.

Reading is one of the biggest goals in the early grades, and helping your child learn to read is also one of the most enjoyable tasks to share. Let your child pick the book. That does a couple of things: it encourages your child to be involved in learning to read, and it tells them their choice is important to you.

After selecting a book, have your child tell you what the book is about. When he is done telling what he can remember, tell him you will find the rest of the answer when you read the book. When you have finished reading the book together, see how much more he can tell you about the book; don’t just put the book down and go on to something else.

See how many words he knows in the book. If he knows words, let him read whatever part he can. Let him know how pleased you are with how he does.

Remember, you can read the book a second time if he is working on learning the new words. It is also fine for him to pick out a second and third book.

Hopefully you have a growing number of books at home. However, if you don’t, use the library, Serenity House or Goodwill where they have many books for each age group — including ones for you.

When your child sees you reading, it encourages him to read. Your example is important.

Multi-task teaching

While you are cooking dinner and setting the table, check your child’s math skills. You could have a quiz sheet ready and see how long it takes him to answer the math questions.

You could just ask him math facts. When his mom or dad comes home from work, have your little one show him how much he has learned.

Talk together over dinner about school. Let him talk about what he is excited about and who his teacher will be. When you are talking together about school, tell him stories about when you were in school. These kinds of stories helps him think about stories he would tell.

Be excited with him as the big day comes closer. Encourage him. Be enthusiastic about the coming event. Let him know how proud you are of the progress he has been making in even these last few days before school begins.

Cynthia Martin is the founder of the First Teacher program and former executive director of Parenting Matters Foundation, which published newsletters for parents, caregivers and grandparents.