Last updated: February 16. 2013 6:04PM - 485 Views

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BACK-TO-SCHOOL season signals big changes and new responsibilities, and not only for students.

Grownups – all of you moms, dads, grandparents and other guardians of school-age youths in Northeastern Pennsylvania – should recognize that you play a vital role in determining whether a child thrives in the classroom, struggles to advance or tosses in the towel.

For example, be on the lookout for bullying – something that can be at its worst at the start of a new school year. Whether your child is the aggressor or the victim, nip this ugly behavior in the bud before it intensifies and injures.

How a student performs in school, and whether she or he drops out or gets a high school degree, typically influences the rest of life: from job options to earnings potential to participation in the community. In this happiness vs. hardship equation, you can help tip the scales toward future success for your student by getting involved in the education process.

Contrary to what some parents seemingly believe, your obligation – and participation – shouldn't end at the bus stop or the schoolhouse door. Join with other parents to address school-related concerns and to exchange ideas through a formal group such as the Parent Teacher Association or an informal friends circle. Find ways to support your child's teachers. And consult online and other resources for ongoing guidance.

The National PTA offers a range of advice this month on back-to-school preparation. (See www.pta.org/3051.htm.) Among its offerings: "Cost-cutting tips for back-to-school," "Tips for communicating with teachers effectively" and "Transitioning from summer to school."

Similarly, websites such as Education.com and GreatSchools.org provide seasonal suggestions and other helpful information, whether your child is prepping for high school or first grade. For instance, prepare your elementary-age child to start the school year by establishing an early bedtime, securing his or her required immunizations and health records, filling out other necessary paperwork and reviewing the route to school.

Give your school student the best possible shot at achieving his or her potential. Treat the end of summer break as the start of a tremendous opportunity – for both of you.

Are you ready?

Get back-to-school guidance at these web pages.

• National PTA: www.pta.org/3051.htm

• Great Schools: www.greatschools.org/back-to-school/preparation/71-back-to-school-blues.gs

• Education.com: www.education.com/topic/back-to-school-preparation

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