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Preparing for school year
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Forsyth County News

People across the county keep saying the same thing: "We can’t believe school is about to begin."

I have numerous teacher friends, and they say they are not quite ready and could use another week or two.

Many of my friends say the new Cumming Aquatic Center was an answer to a prayer this summer. I’ve yet to get over there, but plan to do so soon.

I try to empathize with my friends who wish summer could continue a while longer, but the truth is I am secretly ready. I suppose the secret is out.

Indeed, one of my favorite commercials from years past was the one where a dad is pushing the shopping cart through the superstore and the children are trailing behind him.

The children sulk as the dad smiles ear to ear, singing from the popular Christmas carol, "It’s the most wonderful time of the year."

Now is the time to get organized and help your children gear up for a successful school year. Here are some tips and suggestions to get started.

• First and foremost, attend your school’s open house. Check with the schools to ensure you show up at the right day and time.

Open house allows parents and children to meet the teacher and helps children feel more confident about the first day of school.

This is especially true with younger children, but even teenagers feel better when they know where to go and what to do on that first day.

• Plan, plan, plan … especially for those first few days. The best morning send-offs begin the night before.

Whatever you can do the night before, do it: making lunches; setting out breakfast dishes; choosing clothes; loading up backpacks; and signing papers.

The more prepared you are the night before, the smoother the morning will go and the happier everyone will be.

• Consider giving each child his or her own alarm clock.

I remember when our oldest child was a kindergartener and we did this. Many of our friends thought we were crazy, but it really worked.

Most children feel "big" when they are expected to get themselves up and ready for school.

When children get themselves up and ready, tensions definitely decrease during the morning rush hour.

• Before the first day of school, it’s a good idea to discuss homework expectations, time allotted for reading, studying and/or reviewing for tests.

For some families, a short break after school before beginning homework works well, others prefer to get it done right away.

Decide before school begins how much time will be allowed each week for TV, video games and computers. A good rule of thumb is to allow none until homework is completed.

• Consider buying a large bulletin board (in our family we needed the "colossal" size) and post it in a central location (usually the kitchen). On or near the board, hang a large calendar.

Keep several markers — possibly a different color for each child — and religiously write down activities and appointments.

Our calendar is essential to maintaining order during the year.

In addition to the calendar, use the bulletin board to post important notices, schedules and any lists that need immediate attention.

• Wherever your child does homework (and this topic should also be addressed before school begins), make sure to have some basic supplies handy, like notebook paper, pencils, adequate lighting, a dictionary, ruler, glue and so on.

• Regardless of grade, no doubt children will be doing projects during the school year. Consider purchasing a large plastic container and designating it as "The Project Box."

In the box, store various items that could be used for a project. Some suggestions: yarn; clay; hot glue gun; fabric remnants; buttons; sequins; glitter; paint; craft sticks; markers, Crayons and colored pencils.

It is also always a good idea to keep several pieces of poster board on hand at all times during the school year.

Anyone who has had to run out at 9 at night knows what I am talking about.

• As soon as the children get home from school, get into the habit of looking through their backpacks and reading any notes from the teacher, school correspondence, etc.

Go ahead and mark the calendar with any important dates and events.

Whether you wish summer could last longer or, like me, you’re ecstatic for school to begin, remember to have a positive attitude. Kids take their cues from us.


Adlen Robinson is author of "Home Matters: The Guide to Organizing Your Life and Home." E-mail her at