Summer is drawing to a close. Commercials on TV, displays in big box retailers, and letters sent home by local schools are telling us that the back-to-school season is here again.

We all have seen the lengthy lists of required school supplies provided by teachers. As you start to calculate the cost of new clothes and fresh supplies, keep in mind that some of the best things your child's teacher wants your student to bring back to school this year aren't found on the shelves at the supermarket:


The ability to work well in a team is an essential skill for any setting. In today's classrooms, teamwork has become incredibly important. Teaching children how to collaborate and work well with others will help them to succeed in school and in their future careers.


Most children are naturally creative. They have a unique ability to see the world in fresh ways. Encourage your kids to think outside of the box and come up with new uses for everyday objects. You can also encourage creativity by having your children come up with solutions to complex problems. Some of their solutions may surprise you!


Curiosity is another trait kids show from a young age. Even though some kids may have what seems like an endless number of questions, it's important to praise children for wanting to know more. All too often, children lose their natural curiosity and become too afraid of asking a question or asking for help. Be an example to your children by sharing your own interests and enthusiasm for learning with them.


Dr. Jim Stigler, professor of developmental psychology at the UCLA,has researcheddifferences between American and Japanese approaches to learning mathematics. In one study, he took two groups of first grade student and gave them a math problem that would be impossible for the students to solve. On average, the American students spent about 30 seconds on the problem before giving up. The researchers had to stop the Japanese students after they had spent an hour trying to solve the problem. Students who have habits of persistence are more likely to meet their goals even if they come from difficult circumstances.


The process of complex and meaningful learning can sometimes be an arduous journey. Don't be surprised if your children goes through an adjustment period as they get used to new schools, new teachers and new routines. Model patience by staying calm and talking with your kids about their experiences in school. If your child struggles to learn, focus on improved performance and behavior instead of pressuring kids to get certain grades. A little praise can go a long way to improve your child's attitude about school.

Teaching and practicing these five essential traits will help your child feel confident in their ability to succeed at school. While back-to-school supplies are important, these five skills are essential for every student in every grade level and educational setting. As parents and teachers partner together to teach these essential skills, our schools get help preparing the next generation of students.

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