As students gear up for school, here are four picks to help parents make the most of their child’s education, from preschool to college.

THE RIGHT START
The subtitle of Jenifer Wana’s preschool primer says it all: “The Ultimate Guide to Finding, Getting Into, and Preparing for Nursery School.” Type A moms everywhere can breathe a sigh of relief because How To Choose the Best Preschool for Your Child will save you loads of time navigating essays, interviews, applications and recommendation letters. Beginning at least a year before your child starts school, Wana offers organizational tips for researching, visiting and enrolling in preschool. This process might seem straightforward—your little tyke is only three after all—but the to-do’s are daunting.

Wana helps you determine what’s most important to you and your child in choosing the right preschool (location and cost are biggies for most families). To help you narrow down the options, she includes helpful overviews of different preschool types (Montessori, play-based, Waldorf and others) and comprehensive instructions on researching and evaluating schools.

Wana provides lots of questions that will make you look smart to the discerning admissions officer and even offers acceptably pushy tips on getting off the waiting list. Once little Susie is accepted to the perfect school, a countdown will get the whole family ready for the big day.

KINDGERGARTEN SUCCESS
Regardless of whether they attend public or private school, most children will be given some sort of IQ test by the age of five. Author Karen Quinn has written a comprehensive guide to this secret world in Testing for Kindergarten. It’s a process foreign to most parents, and these early test scores don’t even correlate well to later success. However, the tests have enormous impact on whether a child will get into a competitive private kindergarten or a free public gifted program.

Quinn turned herself into an expert on the topic after her son Sam was faced with developmental delays caused by hearing problems. At age three, he scored in the 37th percentile. After Quinn’s intervention, he scored in the 94th.

Testing for Kindergarten shows how every parent can improve their child’s abilities and scores. First, Quinn explains the most common IQ tests and the seven abilities they measure. Then she helps parents refocus the way they interact with their child to start sneaking learning into everyday life. Daily Life Lessons are easy ideas, like what to do while setting the table, and there are loads of games and activities.

Quinn keeps the overload factor down by focusing on the most important things you can start on day one (dialogic reading, talking to your child constantly). Don’t miss this empowering guide.

SINCERE SLACKERS
As most parents know, boys are different from girls when it comes to organization, time management and study skills. Author Ana Homayoun outlines her specially designed organizational system for preteen and teenage boys in That Crumpled Paper Was Due Last Week. This professional tutor says boys’ struggles in school are rarely due to difficulties with the class material. Instead, disorganization is the root cause.

To get boys back on track, Homayoun outlines a practical plan that focuses on building skills rather than just improving grades. She identifies five factors that add up to chronic disorganization: trouble with multi-tasking, over-involved parents, technology distractions, sleep deprivation and fear of making wrong choices. Parents play a key role in implementing change, starting by identifying their son’s dis-organizational style (the overscheduled procrastinator or the sincere slacker) and helping their sons set three academic and three personal goals.

The specific to-do’s are geared for maximum efficiency. Prepare an organized binder for each class. Don’t do homework in the bedroom; instead try the dining room table. Turn off the music, and put away the cell phone and computer. A five-week strategy for implementing the straightforward advice helps parents and boys see results fast.

COLLEGE BOUND
From the author of the bestseller The Naked Roommate comes The Happiest Kid on Campus, a practical parents’ guide to helping your child get the most out of the emotional and tumultuous college years.

Author Harlan Cohen writes with a wise, funny point of view. He’s young enough to understand kids these days and help parents avoid major eye-rolling on touchy subjects like sex, drugs and alcohol. Pretty much any topic that parents are embarrassed to talk about with their kids is covered with sensitivity and common-sense advice.

Cohen also helps tech-illiterate parents navigate the muddy waters of texting, Twitter and Facebook. He says email is out of date, so if you do want to keep in touch, learn to text. But limit it to twice a week.

Cohen has plenty of advice on practical matters, including handling orientation, packing, move-in day and the basics of financial aid and, of course, dealing with difficult roommates. This handy guide will help parents survive the first few months until your child finds his place on campus.

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