Spinal Column: Preparing your kids to head back to school

By Sen. Mike Kowall
15th Senate District
It seems like just yesterday that school was letting out and Michigan schoolchildren were jumping off the bus, excited about the long summer that lay ahead of them.
Now the dog days of summer are winding down, the weather will soon be turning cool again, and our kids will be heading back to school. With a few weeks of summer left, it is time for us as parents to play our important roles: Ensuring that our children are prepared to learn and helping foster success throughout the year.
A quality education has always played an important role in ensuring that today’s children become tomorrow’s skilled employees, honest leaders and productive job providers. In today’s digital, global economy, education is even more critical. A strong desire to learn in a child is a key to educational success, and active parents and proactive teachers have a major impact in fostering this desire.
Research has shown that students whose parents are involved in their school work are more motivated and set higher career goals than students whose parents are less involved. While helping our children understand classroom material at an early age helps improve their chances for success in high school and college, parents visiting their child’s school has also been cited as a key factor in a student’s development. 
I encourage all parents in the 15th District to try to make time to help and support your young students. For assistance in this endeavor, the Michigan Department of Education has many useful resources available on its website at www.michigan.gov/mde. The “Parent Engagement” section offers numerous links and information that can be tremendously helpful.
If you are a parent of a first-time student, you may be feeling overwhelmed right now. That’s okay; you probably have a lot of information to process. But relax. You will get through this. Remember, first of all, to simply be a parent to your child, and be available to them.
Ensure your child gets plenty of sleep, arrives to school on time, completes their homework and eats healthy meals. Build up your child’s self-confidence with positive reinforcement and encouragement. These foundations are as essential as anything else in ensuring a child’s academic success.
I wish all the parents and children of the 15th District a happy and prosperous school year!
Senator Mike Kowall, R-White Lake, is the chair of the Senate Economic Development Committee. He serves the residents of the 15th Senate District, representing western Oakland County.
Note: This column first appeared in the Spinal Column.