Back-To-School Bits

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Families across the mid-state will jockey for positions in bathrooms and across breakfast tables as they bustle off into a new school year. Be ready!

fea_bits-pinkgirl.pngwith the kids

get supplies, clothes in order
As soon as possible, get all of the items your child needs for school in order. Don’t scramble in the days just before the school year starts.

check it out
Be sure you and your children are familiar with your school’s layout. Discuss where to catch the bus or car ride. Be sure each of your kids knows exactly how her day should go.

establish routines
Start your “school night” routine one week prior to the first day. Pick outfits the night before, store backpacks and supplies where they are to be kept and set alarm clocks. Tell the kids, “Get up, get dressed, brush your hair and teeth and come for breakfast!”

just for moms

feelings are contagious
No matter how you feel about sending off your children, whether it’s to kindergarten, middle school or high school, remember to present a positive view of going to school.

meet the teacher(s)
They are your partners in your child’s education. Meet them as soon as possible and start your relationship(s) out right.

get involved
If you’re involved, you’re “in the loop” which adds to your family’s affinity for school success. Join the PTO, volunteer, befriend other moms and show your children how important it is to be a part of the education community.

the mayor’s first day festival

File1152.pngNashville Mayor Karl Dean helps kick off the 2008 – 2009 school year with the annual Mayor’s First Day Festival on Sunday, Aug. 3 from 2 – 5 p.m. This year’s festival features educational games, activities, giveaways and live entertainment from numerous local groups. Nashville, Rutherford and Williamson Parent will be there, too! Visit the Sommet Center at 501 Broadway in downtown Nashville. For more information about this year’s event, visit www.nashville.gov/mocy/firstday/2008/index.htm.

 lunchbox make-overs
Don’t settle for poor nutrition when it comes to your kids. Redo lunches with tips from nutritionist and author Leanne Ely:

wipe out white bread
Breads made with whole grains are better sources of fiber and will keep kids feeling fuller longer.

be choosy about cheese
Cheese is the number one source of saturated fat in diets. Try swapping out high-fat cheese with soy-based Veggie Slices.

don’t skimp on fruit
Swap sugary snacks with bananas, apples, grapes or oranges

skip the chips
Store-bought chips aren’t the healthiest option for kids. If you must pack chips, try baked pitas instead.

say boo to boxed beverages
Try giving your child water or milk and stay away from sugary juice boxes.

gradebook programs: don’t play “gotcha!”

With the new era of online control parents have access to when it comes to school, many parents wonder just how involved with their child’s academics they really want to be. Web-based programs (known as gradebook programs) like PowerBook, PowerSchool, Edline, K-Planet and Parent Connect give parents instant access to assignments, grades, tardy reports and discipline notices.

Armed with a PIN number and password, parents can log-in to find out exactly what their child has done or was expected to do on any given day. But think for a moment. All that access means you’ll know the bad news as well as the good – sometimes before your child has a chance to talk to you first.

No matter what, if your kids feel like you’ll pounce on them for bad marks, they might not want to come home! While research suggests children do better in school when parents monitor their progress, your nonjudgmental interest will be your best resource and:

be upfront
Let your child know that you will look in on his assignments, grades, etc.

email teachers
Most have limited phone access and prefer email anyway. Send an introductory email early in the year to let her know you’re an engaged parent and that email’s a good way to reach you.

make face time
A monitoring program cannot substitute for teacher meetings or visits to the school. Attend in-person conferences.

don’t expect perfection
Every student is not an honors student, and even honors students go through rough patches.

value learning more than grades
Often the class in which a child doesn’t get especially good grades turns out to be the one that provokes the most thought. Remind yourself – and sometimes your child – that grades are only one way to measure a learning curve.

– carolyn jabs


parent support

fea_bits-anxiety.pngfea_bits-drive.pngfea_bits_success.pngAh, yes. Another school year. Whether or not you’re just starting out with a kindergartener or have a middle-schooler or two, you know how much you’ve got to do to stay on top of school activities, sports, homework, volunteering and everything else that gets packed into the nine months or so that make up the school year. Find all kinds of ideas for making learning fun, tips for spotting problems, discipline guidelines and even learn how to create your own success action plan with The ABCs of School Success (Revell; $12.99) by Wesley Sharpe, Ed.D.

Now let’s talk about those middle- and high-schoolers otherwise known as Generation Me! Janine Walker Caffrey, Ed.D. offers Drive: 9 Ways to Motivate Your Kids to Achieve (Lifelong Books; $14.95). Focusing on kids “who have been coddled, comforted and revered,” Drive is a smart read for parents who want to inspire their children and develop motivation

Always keep an eye out for kids who have difficulty coping with fears. In Overcoming School Anxiety (Amacom; $16), psychotherapist Diane Peters Mayer shows real-life examples and offers proven advice for handling separation, tests, homework, bullies and more.

positive peer pressure – at home!

According to Fox News anchor and mother of eight, E.D. Hill, author of the new book, I’m Not Your Friend I’m Your Parent: Helping Your Children Set the Boundaries They Need … and Really Want (Thomas Nelson; $24.95; available Tuesday, Sept. 2), staying in charge of your kids IS possible. You have to be imaginative and absolutely on top of everything. Hill offers up all kinds of strategies and tips for getting the best out of your kids. She also suggests parents use the Sink-As-A-Class method with your kids (it’s a method many teachers employ).

You come up with a fun activity, but for the family to do it everyone must earn enough positive points. Positive points are earned by doing things that are above and beyond the call of duty. On the flip side, if any child does something especially naughty, then the tote board gets a negative point. There is peer pressure on the children to behave and work together to achieve a common goal – it works in classrooms, and can work at home, too.

love, mom

htstff_lnchcrds3.pngSlip an extra-special note into your child’s lunch box with Kids Lunch Box Cards. Elaborately drawn and loaded with fun facts and cool ideas, the cards include topics like Wacky World, Fairies, Riddles, Gross-Outs and Looney Laws. Available in packs of five for $2.99 each at www.kidslunchboxcards.com.

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