Starting School: How To Help Your Child

Starting school can be an exciting time for both parent and child. To start off on the right foot here are a few suggestions that can help to foster success. A specially designated study space is essential. Setting a study time will help with short attention spans and learning to stay on task. Color coding, organizers, assignment sheets and calendars will get your child on the right track. Graphic organizers and reading with your child can improve reading ability. Consistency and daily interaction are important. To follow up on the information found here, see the articles in Help with Homework

Work Space

As children enter school, they need to have a designated study place. This location can be an agreed upon decision, but should be used consistently. The location should be visible to an adult in the home or where they live.

Study Time

If your child has a short attention span, invest in a kitchen timer. Set it for 15 minutes. If your child is engaged in study during this time, when the timer goes off, give the child 5 minutes of free time. If your child has not been working during the 15 minutes, have the child stand and stretch, then go back to work. Be sure to practice with your child what studying means, what on task behavior looks like.

Help Your Child be Organized

  • Color Code
    Choose a color for each subject. The book cover has that color, spiral notebooks or dividers match. Assignments are written in the matching color.
  • Organizers
    Have a plastic zipper pouch for pencils, scissors, and loose supplies.
  • Assignment Sheets
    Be sure that your child’s assignment book has the same format on each page, e.g., subject, assignments, pages in text, materials needed, date due. You can make multiple copies of the same page.
  • Calendar
    Have an 8-1/2 x 11 monthly calendar. Put due dates in red and a two-day reminder in yellow. You can include whatever important information is needed for the month.
  • Backpack
    Organize all the things in the backpack. Have a specific place for everything in it.


As your child begins to read narrative stories, graphic organizers will become important. A story map outlining the setting, characters, problem, sequence of steps to solve story, and conclusion will help your child know the important information from the story. When your child discovers the main idea of the story, have the child say it to you. You then can tell the story in one simple sentence of no more than 10 words.

To help reading comprehension, as you read with your child, let your child read the title and predict what the story will be about. Help the child tie prior knowledge to the story to support comprehension. Talk about the story.

Reading ability improves by being engaged in reading. Take turns; have your child read a favorite page. Read together. If a computer is available, make use of CD ROM stories, such as Little Monster, Berenstein Bears, Sheila Rae, Ruff’s Bone or Little Critter. In these CD stories, the words are highlighted as they are read. Also, children can read and click on words that they don’t know. This is a very enjoyable way to read.

15 Minutes Every Day

The important component is consistent, daily quality interaction. The development of literacy requires 15 minutes of quality interaction each day. Your child needs to see that reading is important to you, that reading is an enjoyable experience, and that it is worth the hard work that it may require.