Editor's Note (Sept. 2011)

Even though my daughter has entered her second year of college, I find that as a parent I am still trying to be helpful. Gone are the days when I helped her learn to use the potty, tie her shoe or calm herself to sleep. Now I am he designated listener and her go-to mom on all matters involving college financial aid forms and complicated transportation arrangements. As parents, no matter what their age, helping our children is as natural as loving them.

Yet sometimes our help can be misguided. I have been as guilty as anyone else of doing too much. Helping your child learn to use the dictionary is great, actually looking up the word they need to spell – not so much. Lending a hand with the science fair project is helpful, but taking over the entire process is not.

As the new school year gets under way consider the ways that you might be most helpful to your children. As a parent it’s your job to make sure your children get enough sleep and nutrition to face the school day with vigor. It is not your job to do their homework or write letters of excuse to the teacher.

Thinking we could all need a little review on the best ways to be helpful we asked former educator Dawn Marie Barhyte to challenge us with a dozen of the most helpful things parents can do this school year. Read her article “How Parents Can Give Kids An Academic Edge” and learn the surprisingly simple strategies that every parent should have in their toolbox. These tactics, which are often overlooked by parents, can have a positive impact on a child’s academic performance. Here’s a hint, to be effective you’ll need consistency, dedication and patience.

Just because it is the school year doesn’t mean all the fun has to stop. Shared family activities are also important. Get on the good nutrition bandwagon in an upbeat, hands-on way by taking the family apple picking. Read “Pick Your Own Apples” for tips on where to find the juiciest apples this year.

And don’t forget to look through our September calendar of events. There is plenty of fun to be had – and a lot of it is free!

Here’s to a happy school year!