INDIANAPOLIS — School has been in session for a few weeks now, so your family is probably starting to find its groove for this school year. But it’s never too late to add routine check-ins with your kids to make sure they have a great year.

“Parents are their child’s first and most important teacher,” said Matt Martin, director of Kids 360 Early Learning Academy. “Their attitudes about education, teachers, content areas, all floats to your child.”

Still lingering effects from living with COVID, bullying and school shootings are impacting kids – even when they don’t speak up. As Hoosier kids settle into the new school year, here are a few ways caregivers can help them learn, make friends and set their own goals to ensure a successful year.

Check in with your child’s emotions and mental health. The best way to do that is being a good listener. As the school year gets underway, ask your child questions like “What are your biggest worries going back to school?” Or “What are you most looking forward to this year?” Check in often and remind your child their feelings are valid. 

It’s also a good to remind your child that it’s not about perfection and straight As, but giving their best effort. 

“Stress effort over outcome is important,” Martin said. “If you give it your best effort, put in the time to study and get a C, you gave the work. Just keep working, good things happen when kids and people work harder.”

Martin says it’s important to limit technology and focus on building a connection with your kids through activities and time together. That could range from sitting down at the kitchen table for dinner or if you’re busy, turning off the music in the car and talking. 

Also ask your kids about their personal goals and reinforce they’re capable of reaching them! 

And perhaps the most important reminder, not just for kids but for all of us, is that it’s going to be okay. Emphasize with your kids that growing up in an unprecedented time is difficult.

While they might not be where they want to be in the classroom, if they’re showing up every day and are ready to learn, they’re equipped to have a successful school year!