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What's your 'school year's resolution'? TODAY anchors share theirs

Take heart, parents, because you've got a secret weapon in your back-to-school arsenal: the motivating power of school year's resolutions.
/ Source: Parent Toolkit

January may have all countdown excitement, but for many of us the start of school is the REAL new year. There's just something about brand-new notebooks and freshly sharpened pencils that puts us in the new-year frame of mind.

So why not kick it off with a school year's resolution?

In much the same way that New Year’s resolutions can help people make important changes when Jan. 1 rolls around, school year’s resolutions can help you, and your child, resolve together to make this school year the best yet.

To help you get started, our partners at NBC News’ Parent Toolkit have launched a School Year’s Resolution campaign that’s loaded with tips and ideas from parenting experts, and some of our TODAY anchors have shared their own personal resolutions for their families. Here’s what they had to say:

Savannah Guthrie

Though Vale is only 1, the benefits of reading with your child start early.

Thomas Hoerr, head of school at the New City School in St. Louis, Missouri, said reading is one of the best ways to help your child academically. “Being read to is a different intellectual activity than reading,” Hoerr said. “This is good for children whether they are 3, 13 or 23.”

Natalie Morales

Patience is a virtue, right? But it sure can be hard to live by. Natalie said she plans to work on her patience with her son’s math homework.

Admittedly, homework can be a tough topic to tackle, but it’s loaded with resolution potential — especially if your child struggled with one specific hurdle last year.

“A great resolution is to fix last year’s nightmare,” Borba said. “Whether it be studying last minute, forgetting to go to the library, or just one issue that always occurred, your resolution should be to fix that problem.”

Jenna Bush Hager

Jenna is pledging to foster a lifelong love of learning for her young daughter, Mila. Borba agreed that helping to spark a love of learning is a great way to make a difference for your child, and it’s something that can happen at any grade level or any age. One way to do so with older children, Borba said, is just by having regular conversations with them about school and their social lives. This can have a big impact for them, especially when school stresses pile up.

“Keep a positive and healthy outlook in your house, so you can keep stress levels down not just during test week, but all year,” Borba said.

Al Roker

Al said he also would like to capitalize on the benefits of family reading time in the coming year.

"My school year resolution is to get my family together for at least a half hour each day so that we can all read together — physically reading a book, each a different book, but to sit down and actually have reading time with each other," he said.

TODAY contributor and parenting expert Dr. Michele Borba said reading regularly with children of any age can help them succeed in school, and she encouraged parents to resolve to read more frequently themselves.

“When kids see parents reading, they are also more likely to read,” Borba said, noting that children often model their behavior after their parents.

Michelle Icard

The TODAY Parenting Team community also is brimming with expert ideas to help parents and kids have their best school year yet. For example, here’s just one of many potential resolutions for parents of middle-school students from Michelle Icard, author of “Middle School Makeover: Improving the Way You and Your Child Experience the Middle School Years”:

“Give yourself a demotion. By the time your kid goes to middle school, they need to practice the critical thinking and brainstorming skills it takes to solve their own problems. Since you should no longer closely manage your child’s social or academic life, think of it as getting demoted from Manager to Assistant Manager. Ultimately the buck still stops with you, but you want to give your kid plenty of opportunities to get good at solving problems.”

We all could use help making this school year easier and more enjoyable, right? If you head on over to the Parent Toolkit site and set your School Year’s Resolution, you could be one of five winners of $250 gift cards to use for back-to-school supplies.*

*NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN. Void where prohibited. Open only to legal residents of the 50 U.S. states or Washington, D.C., who are 18 or older. Begins August 3, 2015 at noon ET and ends September 8, 2015 at noon ET. Limit one entry per person. For Official Rules, including odds and prize descriptions, visit Sponsor: NBCUniversal Media, LLC.