Things parents should do before school starts again

August 16, 2005

Classes at the Washington County Public Schools resume on Wednesday, Aug. 24, so parents have a little more than a week to make sure their students are ready. But if you haven't done much so far, it's not too late.

A good place to start would be a visit to the school system's Web site at Click on the school your child will attend. Then go to "downloadable resources," where many schools' sites allow you to click on a "supply list" to find out what your child will need to bring to school - what type of pencils, notebooks, etc.

Parents should also watch the annual back-to-school video message, scheduled to air frequently on Antietam Cable TV Channel 99 from Thursday, Aug. 18 through Sunday, Aug. 29.

Most schools have an orientation night prior to the start of schools. If you haven't been notified about when this is being held at your child's school, call and find out.


Attend that session, seek out your child's teacher(s) and let them know you'll be a partner with them in the education process. It's not always possible, but if you can volunteer some time, that will show your child that school is something that you believe is important.

At the same time you are doing all that, we recommend that parents spend some time accustoming children to the different schedule they will face when school starts.

Begin earlier bedtimes now and talk about what limits you'll set on TV watching and video games when the child has school the next day. The school system also has a dress code. Reviewing it on the WCPS Web site will make it easier to say "no" to inappropriate items.

Decide now what will happen if there is an unexpected early dismissal, due to snow or a power failure. Children should know where they're going and who is authorized to pick them up, either at the school or the bus stop.

If your child will be carrying a book bag, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that a good one, with well-padded straps, is worth paying a few extra dollars for.

However, AAP says that a backpack and its books should not weigh more than 20 percent of the weight of the student who is carrying it.

Finally, encourage your child to read, even when it isn't required for class. The Herald-Mail offers local schools newspapers through the Newspaper In Education program and the Washington County Free Library offers many books appropriate for children.

Part of the reason we send children to school is to get them to think about old things in new ways. Reading is part of that process and should be part of your child's days, whether school is in session or not.

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