BATTLE MOUNTAIN - As Lander County families settle in to another school year, it is a good time to review some of the ways this school year can be made more enjoyable and more successful for both students and parents.

The following is what I refer to as my "Four As to School Success." It is a simple concept and easy to remember. As we get this new school year underway, it is important to review what is really essential.

Attitude. Actually, a "positive" attitude is the only one I'm talking about and the only one that gains positive results. Being successful in any endeavor begins with a positive attitude. Any task can be made more enjoyable with a positive attitude. The same applies to school - change the attitude, change the result. If others pick up on a negative attitude, they tend to deal with you negatively.

Many people these days blame others for their own mistakes or problems instead of being "accountable" (another "A" word to remember). When you are accountable, you gain self-respect. When you are accountable, you can then correct any problems, so you can move on.

Attendance. A commonly-used quote is "Ninety percent of success is just showing up." While the exact percentage could probably be debated, it has long been recognized that attendance is key to almost any successful venture.

The same holds true for school! In fact, one of the most important things your child can do to achieve academic success is also one of the most basic: go to school every day.

In fact, research has shown that your child's attendance record may be the biggest factor influencing their academic success. Parents need to judge every situation carefully and not allow their child to miss school for any reason that is not legitimate.

When it is necessary for your child to miss school, contact the school immediately and make arrangements to get your child's assignments. Mandatory student attendance is a policy that schools take seriously. Unexcused absences will go on a student's permanent record; the consequences of your child missing class can include falling behind, lower participation grades, and poorer performance on quizzes and tests.

Academics. It may seem odd that something this obvious is listed as the third key to school success. However, a strong academic performance is not possible without first showing up with the proper attitude. Being academically motivated is no accident. It is not a matter of birthright, or genetics, or family finances. It is a habit! A habit acquired, developed, and reinforced at home.

It is a habit more easily acquired at an early age, but one that can be developed at any time. Parents are critical in aiding their child in acquiring this habit. There are several things parents can do to reinforce their child's habit of being academically motivated. Reading early-on with your child and then discussing what you read is important. Taking part in family activities that encourage learning is another way to foster this habit. Setting routines for study time in a proper area before doing other things that could distract them from study is another of many things parents can do to aid their child.

Activities. The old "all work and no play" mentality actually holds true when it comes to measuring school success. Several studies show a direct correlation between activities and greater student academic achievement.

Additionally, students maintain higher grade point averages during times of participation in student activities than during those periods when they do not participate.

Students that are heavily involved in school activities have less time for less desirable activities and are forced to be more organized to allow time for activities, study, and family.

Lander County students are fortunate in the number of activities offered. Besides a wide range of athletic teams, participation is possible in student government, music, and a variety of student clubs. Please encourage your child to take advantage of this wide array of school activities. It can only help them be successful!

Jim Squibb is superintendent of the Lander County School District.