Ready or not, the start of the 2019-2020 school year is just days away. Children in Rolla return to the classroom on Aug. 13, with other area schools ringing their bells for the first time on the days following. Students in the Camdenton district can enjoy summer one week longer, with school beginning there on the 19th. College students, too, will be returning to Missouri S&T in Rolla. Freshman orientation begins on Aug. 11 in preparation for the first day of classes on Aug. 19.

The return to school has always been an important milestone in the Brown household. My wife is a life-long educator and was a public school teacher for many years. We’ve also raised three children and know full well the joys and challenges of sending children off to school. It can be a stressful time, with all the shopping and preparation, but there are things you can do to ease the strain.

First, take advantage of the resources your school provides. Log onto the district website, sign up for the parent’s online portal and make sure you know what your child will need for the start of school. Also, look for opportunities to become involved in their education. Attend “Meet the Teacher” events, student orientation sessions and open house nights at school. Introduce yourself to teachers and let them know you welcome contact and communication. The most successful students have parents who are interested and engaged, so it’s important that you do your part.

It’s my hope that all parents will make their child’s education a priority as the school year progresses. Read to your young children at home and have them read aloud to you. Show interest in each child’s work and ask what they’re learning. Express appreciation for their efforts. Make sure your child has an appropriate area for homework, one that is free from noise and distractions. Post a calendar of upcoming assignments and tests and help your child stay on track to complete each task.

I also encourage all parents to consider volunteering at your child’s school. Many schools need extra help in the classroom, lunch room or computer labs and at after-school and extracurricular activities. Other schools rely on donations to provide backpacks of food to children who may not always get the nutrition they need at home.

Out on the road, watch for school buses and children along roadways. Children are easily distracted and not always as careful as they should be. It’s up to you to be extra vigilant to avoid accidents. Remember, it’s illegal to pass a school bus while it’s stopped to load or unload children. Last year, five Missouri children were killed and more than 450 suffered injuries in traffic crashes involving school buses. We need to do better this year.

Finally, the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education offers resources for parents. Visit dese.mo.gov to find a report card on your local school and a wide range of information relating to childhood education. To learn about public colleges and universities in Missouri, visit dhe.mo.gov.

It’s my honor to serve as your senator for the 16th District. If you have questions or need any assistance, please call my office at 573-751-5713 or log onto my webpage at https://www.senate.mo.gov/brown for more information.