Diane Sasser, Claesgens, Mark A. | 7/21/2007 12:55:51 AM
Where does the time go? With mixed emotions, you and your child will be preparing for the start of the next school year. But you don’t want one of those emotions to be one of panic.
"Making plans for the start of school in advance can help both parents and students," said LSU AgCenter family and child development professor Dr. Diane Sasser. She poses and answers questions on ways to avoid panic.
– What will your child wear to school? Sort through your children’s wardrobe. Determine which clothes they can still wear, which need to be repaired and which need to be replaced. Have a "try-on" session. Are there any jeans with knees still intact? Did the long pants that fit last June suddenly become "high waters"? Make a list of things your child needs for the fall.
– What will your child use to carry books and homework? Check with your child’s school in advance. Some schools have stipulations on what a child is allowed to bring to school, including types of backpacks. Where are the backpacks, lunch boxes and other school items? Are any of these still serviceable? Thoroughly clean those items. Add to your shopping list the things you need to buy.
– What school supplies will be needed or required? There is no rule that says that all crayons, pencils and pens must be new. Collect what’s left of last year’s supplies. Then add to your list of things to buy. Some teachers require certain types and sizes of notebooks. Buy the basics, but wait for the teacher’s list for special items so that you don’t overspend by buying unnecessary items.
Just because the request for an item is preceded by "But Mom I want…" doesn’t mean you have to buy it. Did you know that in some cultures the equivalent to the word "want" doesn’t exist?
– Where do you buy all the uniforms, school supplies and so forth? Watch for sales. Remember, your child does not need a complete wardrobe by the first day. The first month or two of school the weather is usually warm, and the kids are still wearing their summer clothes. Some uniform shops and organizations sell or donate gently used uniforms. When you think about how quickly kids grow, you realize the previous wearers couldn’t have worn the clothing for long. Wait for price cuts to replace needed items.
– What’s for lunch? Stock up on school lunch foods. If your children are going to pack their lunches, begin thinking about what they will take to school. Start gathering nonperishable items now.
– What time is the first class? Set back the bedtime clock accordingly. Chances are, as the days have gotten longer, bedtime has gotten later. Slowly start moving up bedtime and waking your children up earlier in the mornings. They need a chance to get adjusted to a new schedule.
– Clear out and outfit homework areas. These spots have taken on new lives over the summer. The desk or table may have become an art center, a block construction site or a gathering place for summer junk. Reestablish these sites for studying. Make sure they provide plenty of light and are stoked with paper, pencils and other necessary supplies.
– Make a place for school information. Get a three-ring binder or a folder for all those classroom newsletters, homework policies and other parent reference materials. Similarly, give each child a file or notebook where they can put the papers and art projects they want to keep.
– Hang an erasable academic calendar. A central calendar can keep your family organized.
– Designate areas for school things. Do your kids drop everything when they walk in the door? Give each child a place to hang up backpacks and coats and to store shoes. Also identify an in/out box where they can put things that need your attention, such as permission slips or homework folders.
"Plan ahead, and avoid the panic of organizing your child’s back to school items ahead of time," Sasser said. Send your little scholar back to school prepared and ready to learn.
For information on related family topics, click on the Family and Home link at the LSU AgCenter Web site at www.lsuagcenter.com. For local information and educational programs, contact an extension agent in your parish LSU AgCenter office.