(BPT) - Excitement and dread are common feelings for both children and parents when back-to-school season arrives. No matter how much they look forward to seeing friends and buying a new school wardrobe, children can be afraid of the changes a new school year can bring. Fortunately, parents can do a lot to ease the transition from summer to school.

“By fostering a home environment that supports learning, parents can help kids approach their studies with positivity and excitement,” says Dominique Ciccarelli, education specialist at Kumon North America.

Ciccarelli and the learning experts at Kumon offer parents some guidance for getting kids ready to go back to school and making those first weeks easier:

* Focus on motivation. Set goals and establish rewards. In addition to learning new material, what specific goals would you like your child to accomplish this school year? Perhaps your son would like to improve his math skills. Maybe your daughter would like to participate in a big science competition. Discuss goals as a family. Consider creating a visual learning goal chart that can help keep kids on track and see their progress toward success.

* Freshen up kids’ study area, or, if they don’t already have one, establish a location in your home where they will study and do homework. Choose a location where you can keep an eye on them but still minimize distractions like TV, phones and electronics. Perhaps it’s a quiet corner of the family room that’s visible from the kitchen. Maybe it’s a desk in their bedroom. Stock their study spot with a comfortable chair, a sturdy and roomy work surface and essential supplies like pencils, pens, erasers, extra paper, scissors, etc. To help build their excitement about going back to school, let kids help in prepping their study area.

* Begin to re-establish school time routines before the first day of school. If bedtime has slipped later and later during the summer, start putting children to bed earlier each night until you reach the bedtime you plan to stick with throughout the school year. Likewise, start getting them out of bed around the same time they’ll need to be up when they have to get ready for school every day. Since they’ll have a set homework time when school’s in session, begin getting them used to doing something quiet and studious during that time, like reading a book or writing in a journal.

* Consider supplementing in-school learning by enrolling your kids in a learning program. Options like the Kumon Program can help kids build a solid foundation in math and reading, while gaining the confidence needed for success in school. Free registration will be offered at participating Kumon centers Sept. 1 to Oct. 8. To learn more or to find a Kumon Learning Center near you, visit www.kumon.com.