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Photo: LUNAMARINA/Getty Images/iStockphoto, License: N/A, Created: 2011:07:07 19:46:43

happy laughing student kids at school classroom in desk


Whether we like it or not, back-to-school time is upon parents and teachers in Northeastern Pennsylvania.

The days of sleeping late, spending long, hot summer days poolside and late nights fireside roasting marshmallows and making s’mores are coming to a close. It is time to change gears and to prepare for an another important school year.

Let’s skip the anxiety and stress of a new school year that students and parents alike feel and start out on the right foot this year.

The thought of school, work, sports and extra-curricular activity schedules, after three months of very few cares, can make it harder to find time to manage tasks at hand in the new school year.

Start by being organized. That’s easier said than done for the less-organized person. Just a few simple steps can help. Begin by checking your list of must-haves and start chipping away at the list with purchases throughout the season of what your students may need. Notebooks, backpack, pencils/pens, calculators and all supplies can be purchased anytime of the year so don’t wait. A back-to-school shopping trip with your students is a special time that they can enjoy as quality time with their parent.

Talk to your students and make the transition back to school a less anxious time and an easier one to maneuver. Reassure them that the year will be a great learning experience and they will get back with their old friends and meet new ones. When school begins, don’t forget to ask them how their day was — i.e. what went right and what went wrong? Teach them to be independent and to be problem solvers. A good conversation can help your students understand and achieve high standards in their lives.

Another good transitional tool is to tour the school if it is new to your student, such as transitioning to a middle or high school, or the pre-K or kindergarten classrooms for the younger child. Meet the teachers and open doors of communication with them throughout the year for you and your child.

Help students find friends to walk to school or ride the bus with this year.

Also, teach them back-to-school safety tips and stranger danger awareness.

Choose a backpack with care — one that has wide, padded shoulder straps. Impress on childen the need to use both straps, not just slinging the pack over one shoulder which can cause muscle strain. Also, try not to pack too much stuff — the backpack should never weigh more than 10 to 20 percent of your child’s weight. Don’t rule out a rolling backpack for students with a heavy load if allowed in their schools.

Regarding the school bus, teach children to board and disembark correctly and safely. Tell them to wait for the bus to come to a complete stop and to make sure your child can see the bus driver and that the driver can see them. Also, remind them to obey the rules of the bus by staying seated and wearing seat belts if they are provided.

According to the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP), children may begin walking to school at 9 to 11 years of age. Make sure it is a safe walk including crossing guards at intersections. Walking with them the first week of school provides a chance to acclimate them to the trip and to teach them some important safety concerns. Bright colored clothing and reflectors on their backpacks also may be smart ideas.

Don’t wait until the night before school begins to institute your back-to-school bedtime. Begin a few nights before and set an alarm at wake-up time to make sure you have enough time to get ready for each day. A school time schedule is one that will help your student better prepare for success of the school day mornings.

Sometimes parents will find their students are apprehensive and wish to avoid school. This happens most commonly between the ages of 5 and 7 and 11 and 14, according to the AACAP. Those are periods when youngsters are dealing with the new challenges of elementary and middle school. The academy advises parents to tell their children that it is OK to be nervous and talk to them about ways to cope with their anxiety and do so as often as they need you to. Seek additional help from school counselors if the need arises.