• "Read to your child every day. They need to hear people reading to them, because they need to hear what good writing sounds like," Suydam said. Even older children should be read to, Suydam said.

• Teach them to respect others by showing respect at home and with teachers. "It's OK not to agree. We need to respect and listen so that we can work together" is the lesson to impart, Suydam said. "If they see it between parents and teachers, it creates a community of respect" -- and that may transfer to society.

• "Talk to them about their day," Suydam said. Ask them to describe three good things that happened. It leads them to engage in more conversation and shows that you "are really interested in what they do all day long," she said.