Wednesday marks the first day of school for most area children.
That means it's back-to-school time for parents as well, especially in a time when more and more is expected of schoolchildren at ever-younger ages.
A 2008 University of New Hampshire study by Karen Smith Conway, professor of economics at the University of New Hampshire, and her colleague Andrew Houtenville, senior research associate at New Editions Consulting, showed that schools would have to spend about $1,000 more per pupil to make up the difference an involved parent can have on a student's academic performance.
Involvement can obviously mean many things, but the U.S. Department of Education has some tips that can help. The entire document will posted with this editorial at post-journal.com, but some helpful tips for elementary and middle school include reading with children on a regular basis at home, communicating with teachers about websites where class notes and homework assignments are listed, being involved in parent teacher conferences, knowing about achievement tests and what the results mean for a child and being involved with guidance counselors at your child's school throughout the child's school career.
Even more important is setting a good example in the home. Parents are, after all, their child's first teacher. Teachers may have a child in a classroom for a year, but it is parents from whom children learn good habits that can help them both in school and when their child embarks on college or a career. Such involved parenting can be tough when both parents are working or when parents work first or third shift - a fact of life in an economically challenged area like ours.
Regardless of economic status, it is vital parents play an active role in their child's education. In the end, it is children and, by extension, the community at large, who suffer when a child's education suffers.