Getting ready for another school year

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Sam George is the executive director of Parivar International, a non-profit initiative to address the needs of youth and families of Asian Indian origin in North America.  Sam is the author of the book “Understanding the Coconut Generation” (www.CoconutGeneration.com). He can be reached at sam@coconutgeneration.com

By Sam George
In this final edition of “Family in Summer,” I want to focus on getting ready for Fall and another school year. So far, we have covered how to make the most of the summer as a family. Thanks for sharing your fun ideas for the summer. Please send in stories of your summer family adventures by e-mail. I would love to hear from you.

Before you know it, summer will be over and our kids will be getting back to school. In fact, I am already seeing back to school sales at local stores. In a way, it is a sign of relief for some parents. Finally, summer madness will be over and more predictable days are ahead. Order will triumph over chaos.
As another school year approaches, parents begin to think about getting children ready for school. This is an awesome and stressful time for the parents as well as the children. Some are starting school for the first time, while others are going to a new school. Some will leave home for the first time to live in dorms by themselves in another city or state.

Some careful planning and thoughtfulness can ease much of this stress. Parents must find time in the final weeks of summer to talk about the upcoming school year. Alleviate any anxiety your children might have about returning to school, whether it be bullying your child may have to face again, the teacher she does not like, or keeping up grades.

Plan ahead for the back-to- school shopping. When you go shopping for those backpacks, pencils, notebooks and other school supplies, make it a family project where the whole family can hang out together. Do not miss the bargains that are out there. See what you can salvage from last year’s unused or seldom used supplies.

Meet with parents of children’s friends from school. Many of them must be living right in your neighborhood. Throw a block party if you can afford and get to know other parents of your children’s class and schoolmates. Meet with your children’s teacher or principal, if possible. Attend any preparatory meetings the school might organize for children and their parents. Connect up with PTA officials to see activities for the calendar year.

Get organized. Most parents are working parents and must organize their schedule to include their child’s school activities. If there are two parents, find a way to trade off, if needed. Maybe the mother can attend a couple of events and then the father if both cannot be there at once. If you are a single parent, get a support system.

Plan and discuss the transportation needs of children. Familiarize everyone with scheduled bus pick-up and drop-off. Parents must also plan to avoid routes where stop-and-go school buses run. Plan for after-school activities your child might have. The best way to organize everyone’s schedule is to have a Family Calendar — a centralized site where all the family’s time commitments are clearly marked.

School often requires documentation, from immunization records to report cards from the previous school year. A little preparation can prevent frantic last-minute efforts. Call your child’s school beforehand to find out what paperwork will be required. During the last two weeks of summer, re-introduce a school year bedtime. Begin waking late sleepers earlier and earlier, closer to the hour they’ll need to rise when school begins.

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