(WKBN) – As the new school year approaches, some parents will be sending their children to class for the first time, while others have been doing it for years.

Either way, there are some questions every parent should ask their district and the U.S. Department of Education lays out what those should be. Here are a few suggestions: (Source: U.S. Department of Education)

  • What teaching methods and materials are used? Are the methods used to teach reading and math based on scientific evidence about what works best? Are science and social studies materials up to date?
  • How much time is spent on each subject such as reading, math, science and history?
  • How does the school measure student progress? What tests does it use?
  • Does the school meet state standards and guidelines?
  • Are teachers highly qualified? Do they meet state certification requirements?

Also, look at your district’s report card, and keep yourself informed about the district’s website, what information you can find there and how often it’s updated.

For children entering kindergarten, it’s a good idea to find out what areas are emphasized and how focused that program is on academic instruction. Also, be informed of what is expected of your child. Expectations vary, but here are some common behaviors generally expected:

  • Follow school and classroom rules
  • Listen attentively and follow instructions
  • Concentrate on and finish a task
  • Self-control
  • Respect the property of others, share and take turns
  • Do as much for themselves as possible such as toileting, washing hands, putting away materials and taking care of their personal belongings

Academic skills for kindergartners vary, but in general, students should be able to recognize and name alphabet letters and their own name, understand words in books and their meanings, understand the concept of rhyming, tell a story, draw circles, lines, scribbles and some letters, and recognize numbers and hold and look at a book.

There are several ways to prepare yourself and your child for school. The U.S. Department of Education offers a handbook on all the ways you can get prepared for the new school year and help your child all year long.

Trumbull, Mahoning and Columbiana counties all have educational service centers that can be a resource for parents in addition to district offices. There are resources for parents that can provide information on many topics including special education, preschool, home education, parent support programs and more.

Experts say the biggest thing a parent can do is stay engaged and involved in their child’s education. Get to know teachers and stay on top of school policies, news and changes to the curriculum.