The school year has begun and for parents of preschoolers, like me, it's a lightning storm of activity around our house. We struggle to get ready for school each day, out the door on time and before you know it, it's time for dinner and bed. However, my wife and I are working hard to drill our 4-year-old on the important lessons he's learning each day in the classroom.

Here are some tips to help your preschooler practice his writing, reading and other skills while at home:

What They Like

Our son loves snakes and reptiles, so to motivate him to work on writing his letters we ask him to write the names of his favorite snakes or lizards. We write the word first on a large, lined writing pad. Next, he traces the letters. Then, he writes the word himself. You can try this with anything that encourages and engages your child.

Make It Routine

Like most skills, the key to success is repetition. Find a time of day that works for you and your child and stick to it. Is the morning before school the best time? Maybe it's after dinner? Whatever time it is, discover the best time and the best amount of time to spend on these lessons. Once they get into the habit of doing it, they won't resist it nearly as much.

Dovetail With School

What is the letter of the week at school? How about the number? Take your cue from the classroom about which letter or number to focus and that will reinforce what your child is learning. Also, talk with your child's teacher about upcoming lessons that you can begin to plan for at home.

Make It Fun

If the letter of the week is "P", ask your child to walk around the house and discover 3 items that start with that letter. Then, you can have her practice writing those words. If the number is "6", give your child 6 of her favorite snack, like goldfish. Challenge your child to do simple math with the goldfish and practice adding up different amounts to reach the number 6.

Be Observant

When you're shopping or running errands, take some time to notice signs, clocks or words on billboards, walls or advertisements. Use these objects as mini-teaching moments throughout the day to reinforce the lessons your child is hearing and digesting in the classroom. If you look hard enough, the entire world is a classroom.

While You Read

When you read to your child take some extra time and ask her to help you sound out the words on the page. Go through each letter to help her learn or remember the sound the letter makes. Encourage her to put the sounds together and let her discover the word made by those sounds. This process can take a while but it's well worth it. Before you know it, she'll be reading to you!

All About the Apps

There are a myriad of excellent educational apps that can help cement the lessons your child is learning. Ask your child's teacher for apps that might be beneficial for your child or look online for which apps might be most popular and helpful for your son or daughter.

Teach Discipline

This is a good time to begin establishing a foundation for the way your children attack homework and school projects in the years ahead. If you are able to create a routine where your son knows it's time for schoolwork between 3 and 4 o'clock every day, he will follow that routine. It's never too early to begin building good study habits.