UPDATED January 12th, 2018

A mother’s heart is the child’s classroom. —Henry Ward Beecher

As the school year begins and you watch your child walk off into a new frontier—a new school, a new classroom, with a new teacher—remember that you remain the most important element in their education. You are their constant and consistent teacher. If you foster an atmosphere of learning at home, you will help your child to succeed in the classroom.

Here are five ways to bring the classroom home and show your child that you value their education.

1. Create a Study/Work Station
Establish a designated space for studying and working on daily homework assignments. Make sure that all of the essential supplies are at hand and easily accessed by your child so they do not have to rely on your help. This establishes a pattern of self-sufficiency and independence, which is essential in your child’s later school years. You should, of course, look over the homework assignments, but remember it is their homework. It is best to let them do as much of it as possible by themselves. Allow your child to make mistakes. As we all learn, the best lessons come from mistakes.

Read Related: Keeping the Kids Busy & Learning at Home

2. Keep a Calendar
Between school projects, sports practices, doctor appointments, playdates, and whatever else life throws your way, it is easy to become overwhelmed and forgetful. An organized, well-kept calendar is essential for a productive and less stressful school year. If you like, you can color code the calendar. Use red marker for school assignments, blue for sports/activities, green for playdates, etc. You can also assign each member of the family a different color. Make it work for you. Remember, this calendar is just as helpful for you as it is for your child. Keep it in a highly visible spot so that everyone can refer to it easily.

3. Post Word of the Day
Choose a word of the day and post it in a visible spot (perhaps near the calendar). Aim to use the word in a sentence at least three times that day. (If a word a day seems too daunting, begin with a word per week.) Remember to be encouraging so that your child will want to use the word and feel proud of their expanding vocabulary. Refer to this website, which provides a word per day according to grade level.

4. Play Games
Learning should be fun! Playing games (both online and off) is a great way to reinforce this notion. Two sites that we love are: PBS Kids Play and FunBrain.

PBS Kids Play • This is an interactive online world, with a large number of games to help your child hone their math, science, reading skills and beyond. Favorites include: Alphabet Soup and the Rock and Read Jukebox.

FunBrain • Touted as the #1 site for online educational games, this site has an endless number of activities, which are sorted by grade level. Favorites include: Math Baseball, Grammar Gorillas, and Fresh Baked Fractions.

Don’t forget about good old-fashioned board games too! Monopoly for math, Scrabble for spelling, chess for strategy and patience…

5. Read!
A strong educational foundation is made up of a well-stocked bookshelf, a well-used library card, and an ever-expanding reading list. Read with your child, read to your child, have your child read to you. Read, read, read. I believe Dr. Suess said it best: “The more you read, the more things you will know. The more things you learn, the more places you’ll go.”