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Back to School Preparation Should Start Now

Westlake schools open in just over two weeks. Here are some tips to help your children get a good start.

It seems like just yesterday, it was no more pencils, no more books, no more teacher's dirty looks.

But, two weeks from tomorrow, will begin the 2012-13 school year.

The school year is to accomodate construction of the new .

The earlier start will be a challenge, said  first-grade teacher Lisa Forshey.

"It's going to be earlier, hotter and people aren't in the back-to-school mindset yet," she said.

When should parents start getting children ready to go back to school?

Now would be the time, Forshey, a 16-year veteran of Westlake schools, said. Children need to get back to a more regular schedule to be ready for school. And a big factor in that is their sleep schedule.

If children are still on summer sleep schedules when they go back to school, they won't be properly rested. Often in the first few weeks of school, Forshey has seen kids who say they are starving around 10 a.m. That's because their bodies are not back on a regular meal schedule, so they usually skip or pick at breakfast.

Here are some tips from Forshey for easing children into back-to-school:

  • Start tonight with earlier bedtimes. Ease your children into it by putting them to bed 10 to 15 minutes earlier each night until they're back into a school-time schedule. And get them up 10 to 15 minutes earlier each morning until they're getting up at the time they need to during the school year. Rouse them gently with ambient noise outside their bedrooms.
  • End the morning dawdles. Have them get washed and dressed right away, and give them a good breakfast.
  • Get them doing something to engage their mind, such as reading a book, playing educational computer games, doing a couple of math problems printed out from a website, or writing words in sidewalk chalk in the driveway.
  • Know going in that your children are going to resist earlier bedtimes, earlier rising and anything that smacks of back-to-school. Do your best to make it fun, but be firm.
  • Get your back-to-school shopping done as soon as possible. A child could worry that the teacher will yell at them or not like them for not having everything on the supply list. Take that worry away.

Parents are the deciding factor in how a child goes back to school, Forshey said. The most important thing you as a parent can do?

Keep a positive attitude. Ma Ingalls was right. Little pitchers have big ears.

"Kids hear every word you say, even if you think they aren't listening," Forshey said. So be careful about griping about back-to-school, or saying anything negative about school, a teacher or other students if the kids are in earshot.

Children will internalize any concerns or apprehensions you have, adding to their back-to-school stress. Instead, Forshey said, focus on how nice their new teacher is, how they'll be with their friends again and will make new ones, and all the fun things that will happen during the school year.

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