It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year!

Written By: Rachel Strong
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For most of the country, school is starting up this week or later this month-at the beginning of September for the rest of us. Getting ready to send your children back to school is on everyone's mind.

School clothes and supplies are the most visible parts of Back to School (and probably the most important to your student), but there are other ways to ensure your student is ready to go back to school.

First, you need to get into the school routine. Make sure your student is no longer staying up until 2 a.m. and waking up at noon. Even though it is still light outside, it is important for your family to get to sleep and wake up about the time you will during school.

Next, you need to start getting your student back into the mentality of Back to School. Start limiting your student's TV, gaming and/or online time, and - if nothing else - get them outside for a few more minutes each day. Or, to get them back in the grove of learning, block out all TV channels except for Discovery, PBS, The Science Channel and other learning channels.

Also, you need to make sure that your child's study area is clean and ready for use. No matter where the study area is located, it should be free of clutter. The area should be well-stocked with paper, pencils, and a pocket dictionary. If your student has a computer in his or her study area, it should not have any games or Internet access to prevent distractions.

Next, you need to make sure your student is in the right school. By now, the No Child Left Behind evaluations for your area schools are available on the district website and at the district office. As part of NCLB, you can transfer your student from a lower-performing school to a higher-performing one with the district picking up the tab for transportation (However, you do run the risk of your A-student becoming a B-student at a higher-performing school).

Finally, it is important to prepare your child for the unthinkable. Having an emergency plan is essential, no matter where in the country you may live. Children feel better and have peace of mind when they know where to find you afterward a natural disaster, terrorist attack, or school shooting. Make sure your child has your home, cell, and work phone memorized (not just programmed in a cell phone) and that you know multiple routes to your child's school.

If you are concerned with your child's safety in light of Columbine and Virginia Tech, there are now bullet-proof and knife-proof backpacks that can withstand a shotgun blast at close range. These Ballistic Backpacks are available for purchase online at www.mychildpack.com *.

Preparing your child for school both physically (clothes and supplies) and mentally is essential. The better prepared your student, the better the school year will go.

*Not an endorsement, for informational purposes only.

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