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By Nathan Miller

As school bells ring across Trousdale County signaling the beginning of another school year, it’s a good time for parents to consider what they might do to help their children have a good and successful school year.

Nathan Miller, director of the Cumberland Mental Center in Lebanon, an agency of Volunteer Behavioral Health Care, said there are a number of options and practices parents may do to insure that their child stays on a road to success during the school year despite issues that could disrupt or detour their progress.

Miller said the decisions a child may make at this stage in his or her life can many times have a lasting impact.

“Parents,” he said, “need to be mindful of this.”

He encouraged parents to know their kids’ friends, their habits, where they spend time outside of school and what they do for recreation or entertainment.

Parents need to be watchful for changes in behavior, periods of depression, frequent mood swings, periods of withdrawal, a variance in sleep habits and other signs that may be signals of excessive peer pressure, bullying, relationship issues, drug use, or other unstable or mental health concerns.

“It’s important,” Miller said, “to recognize these issues early and to seek professional help.”

To help provide for your child to have a good school year Volunteer Behavioral Health Care offers the following:

  • Set back to school sleep schedules to help get school routines back in order. Have and enforce regular sleep schedules for school days and weekends that ensure adequate sleep.
  • Encourage activities that take place after school (community volunteering, tutoring, athletics, etc.) to keep your kids active.
  • Encourage reading. (Less television, computer time, computer games.)
  • Try to show your kids how to plan and organize. Show them the importance of scheduling time for study, recreation, and time with friends and other activities. Teach them to know what is most important and to organize their “to do” lists with priorities in mind. A good tool for this could be a calendar or scheduler.
  • Have an understanding about limiting time to be spent watching television, playing screen games, chatting on the internet, or talking and texting on the cell phone.
  • Reserve time for family. Have specific times for family conversations on a regular basis.
  • Encourage a good healthy diet and frequent exercise.
  • Visit your child’s school. Meet with teachers. Ask what you might do to better prepare your child for his or her school work. Let the teacher know you are available and accessible if there is something you should know about your child’s progress in school. Provide your cell phone number and email address.
  • Don’t be timid to know what your child’s school assignments and homework are. Show you’re interested in their work. Ask for detail and explanations about what they’re studying.
  • Dedicate an area in your home that is reserved for homework and study where there won’t be interference with television or distractions.
  • Set good, attainable, reasonable goals. Goals could include hours dedicated to studying each day, a specific number of books to read, or an academic grade point average.
  • Have a reward system when goals are met, a trip to a NFL or favorite college game, a special dinner or desert, etc.
  • Always be positive and encouraging. Let them know you have confidence in them. That you believe they will succeed if they try.