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Preparing for Back to School

Helpful tips for parents and kids

July 01, 2011
Get in your last summer hoorahs! The next school year is just around the corner. Check these items off your back-to-school to-do list, and your kid's first day will go as smoothly as their slip 'n slide.


Doctor appointments. "If a child is not vaccinated and is exposed to a disease germ, the child's body may not be strong enough to fight the disease," Wayne Fischer, Indiana State Department of Health's director of immunization, said. "Immunizing individual children also helps to protect the health of our community." Parents, take note of the immunization requirement changes for the 2011-2012 school year: Two doses of Varicella (Chickenpox) vaccine, or evidence of immunity, will be required for kindergarten and first grade students. And as of July 1, Local health departments will no longer be able to provide publicly-funded vaccines to individuals who are fully insured. Community physicians should provide vaccinations to their insured patients.

Low-maintenance haircuts. Get a freshly groomed look that's easy to fix for those rushed school mornings. Kids are less concerned about their appearance and therefore aren't interested in the upkeep of certain hairstyles, so children's haircuts are all about convenience for you. Think buzz cuts for boys – hair won't stand straight up after sleeping on it. Consider bobs for girls – hair is less likely to tangle.

Extracurriculars. Decide which clubs, sports and classes your child wants to participate in this year. Go for quality, not quantity. Once you and your child have decided on activities, turn in those registration forms and get the meetings and practices on the calendar now so you avoid double-booking later.


Back-to-school clothes. With your child's help, sort through their closet and drawers to decide what fits, what doesn't, what they'll wear again this fall and what they won't. Focus on purchasing the necessary basics, such as jeans and new shoes.

Then, if you and your child feel the need to indulge on something extra special, Piper Twilla, owner of Piper Children's Boutique, suggested finding a great coat and seeking out the perfect outfit for school pictures. "Corky & Company coats are different enough to be dressy, but they're casual enough to wear to school every day," Twilla said. "Your child will look different from all the other children getting off the bus."

A comfortable and durable backpack. Steer your child toward backpacks that will protect their spine and shoulders with wide, padded shoulder straps and a padded back. Shop early enough so that the choices aren't picked over. That way, they will be able to choose a design, brand and color he or she will be proud to sport all year.

Breakfast and lunch food. Purchase and test out fresh breakfast and packed-lunch options on the kids so there are no surprises on school mornings. Think quick and easy breakfasts. Gain inspiration from allrecipes.com, which has a free, printable cookbook for kid-friendly lunches.

Suzanne Rockwell, executive chef and managing partner of Chef Suzanne Catering, has innovative ideas for new kid-friendly recipes. She said breakfast burritos can be made the night before with scrambled eggs, ham, cheese, turkey and vegetables. Simply scramble the eggs with chosen ingredients and refrigerate. In the morning, microwave the egg mixture and then place in a flour tortilla and roll.

Rockwell also suggested to-go yogurt parfaits. Use clear plastic cups and layer vanilla yogurt, strawberries and blueberries. "They can be made a few days before as well and then topped with yogurt in the morning," Rockwell said. "Plastic makes it quick, and they can even eat at the bus stop."

Rockwell said wraps are a great choice for kids' lunches — especially pizza wraps. Use a whole-wheat wrap, lean ham, pepperoni, mozzarella cheese and a drizzle of tomato sauce, and you are set to go. "Cauliflower is available in purple and orange colors, which is fun for the kids, and watermelon cut in shapes is always a hit," Rockwell said. "Anytime you can use a different type of bread, such as pitas, wraps, etc., kids tend to get excited."


A sorting system. Design a sorting system for all the papers you're going to get as school starts. File the childrens' paperwork in folders labeled for each child. Also, color-code each child's schedule on the family's calendar.

Kids' closets. Clean out closets and drawers in the kids' rooms to simplify and freshen up their living space. Jane Brady, owner of Jane's Organizing and Consulting, said to get your child involved in this process so that he or she feels like they have a say in what happens to their belongings. Your child will be much more likely to keep the room organized if they are involved in cleaning it.

New supplies. Set aside a place for them to collect all their new school supplies and clothes. It'll help them to get excited about using them when school starts. Brady suggested buying backpacks first so that the kids can load those up as new school supplies collects over time.


Bedtime schedule. Ease back into an "early to bed, early to rise" type of schedule. Have your child go to bed and wake up 10 to 15 minutes earlier each day until they are back to a normal sleep schedule.

Eating schedule. Since kids crave predictability and familiarity, feed them three meals a day. Children need to get used to a structured meal routine.

Library visit. Pick out books at your local public library. It'll help prepare their minds for studying. Work together to review some of the concepts they learned last year, and set goals and expectations for the new year. It'll help get them in the right frame of mind before their first day of school.

Not ready for summer to end? It's never too late to plan one more summer soiree. Add it to your to-do list, as those memories are as important as getting ready for back-to-school season. Treasure the big summer send-off, and toast to another great school year ahead!

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Tags: Education, In This Issue, Kids, Local, Parenting

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