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      Reduce "brain drain" before school starts

      Chances are your child won't go to school at the same knowledge level he or she left with. It's called summer brain drain ... the term for the knowledge kids don't retain during the three month long summer break.

      For returning students, it's important for parents to help kids brush up on their basic skills. Have them work on their summer learning packets, read books and do basic math problems. You can also make it more fun by going to learning websites like and of which make learning a game.

      For parents of kindergarteners, children learn to read this year so your child needs to recognize both lower and upper case letters in the alphabet. Knowing that information will help your child pick up phonics and reading more quickly. Also hone counting skills.

      Another key to good grades is what happens out of the classroom and in lockers and backpacks. Get kids organized.

      Liberty Math teacher Brenda Graff says bad organization like this leads to disappointing grades and lots of headaches later on.

      She says the best way to start is with a simple homework folder. It can be any old folder - but designate one side for the homework to do and things to take home and the other for the finished homework and things for teachers. That way all homework and take-home notes are in one place and parents and students know what to look for and where to look for it. It's easier than riffling through several different folders for each class.

      Try color-coding notebooks and folders for each class and keep a planner or a to-do list is important. Have your child write out assignments for every class. That helps parents know what they have to do and make sure its done.

      Also ask your child to put homework related books into his bag as classes pass by, so they're packed by the end of the day.

      "What should parents do at home?

      Graff said, "Clean out folder periodically, but don't throw those pages of homework away. Put them in a box and save it for the semester so you don't throw something important away. That also may help in proving your child actually did turn in what a teacher may have down as an incomplete assignment."

      It's also important to get kids back on a regular school sleep schedule.

      Do that gradually in the coming weeks before school, instead of abruptly.