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Some homework for parents before school starts Aug. 22

August 03, 2007

On Wednesday, Aug. 22 - less than a month from now - students will return to the Washington County schools. If they haven't done so already, parents should start preparing their children now, so that when the opening buzzer sounds, they're ready to learn.

Each student has a list of items they're expected to have on the first day of school - so many pencils, notebooks and the like.

To find out what your child needs, go to the school system's Web site at:

www.wcboe.k12.md.us

Then click on "search" and enter "school supply lists." You'll find that for each grade, there is a specific group of items that students will need.

There is also a listing of things students shouldn't bring. For example, some teachers prohibit binders with Velcro fasteners, because of the noise involved when they're opened.

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If you don't have Internet access, call your school for a list of the items needed.

Then there are school clothes. Before parents spend a lot of money on new apparel for students, they should remember that there is a dress code.

Among other things, it prohibits hats and overcoats worn indoors and any kind of jewelry, such as long chains, that might be used as a weapon.

Pants or tops may not expose the student's midriff and should cover any underwear. Tank tops and muscle shirts are considered underwear and can only be worn under other garments.

Some messages on shirts are prohibited, including any that contain profanity, that refer to drugs, alcohol or tobacco or that would demean any person or group.

If you cannot afford to buy school clothes for your child, there is help available from Children In Need, a United Way agency located at the Martin Luther King Center at 131 W. North Ave. in Hagers-town.

You may obtain clothes at no charge if your child is on the school system's list of those eligible for free and reduced-price lunches.

The center is open for clients from 9 a.m. to noon on Wednesdays and Fridays.

Once school supplies and clothing have been obtained, parents need to begin getting children accustomed to a different sleeping schedule, so that they're well-rested when they wake up on a school day.

It's also a good time to talk about the rules for such things as homework and when it will be done. Every student should have a quiet place to read and write, away from the distraction of TV, iPods and the like.

For very young children, it's a good idea for parents to get them accustomed to going to the bathroom on a regular basis, to avoid classroom accidents.

In July 2006, Dr. Christopher Cooper, an associate professor of urology at the University of Iowa's medical school, gave the university's news service an interview on the subject.

Cooper said that about 15 percent of children in the lower grades have accidents. He recommended that they get at least three bathroom breaks a day.

Breaks are especially important in the afternoon, he said, because most accidents occur between 2 p.m. and the end of the school day.

Parents who know their child has a problem should provide the school with extra clothes in case there is an accident, Cooper said.

(Cooper's interview is available in audio form at http://news.uiowa.edu/audiocurrent.html.)

For parents, this is a lot of information to consider, particularly if there is more than one child in the family. We ask parents to try to remember their own school days. Back then they might have been less concerned about spelling words and more worried that their new teacher wouldn't be nice or that they might not make new friends.

Those worries will be there regardless of what parents do. But if they can take care of other matters before school starts, that should make it easier for their students to settle in and begin another year of learning.

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