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Preparing for school is about more than objects

Teaching Your Child

Teaching Your Child

July 24, 2009|By LISA TEDRICK PREJEAN

Have you started preparing to go back to school?

Yes, I know it's only July and we have several weeks of summer left. It's hard to think about cracking the books when the beach and the pool are calling.

But consider this: If you prepare your family, the transition won't be nearly as difficult when the time comes.

A tangible and relatively easy way to prepare is buying the school supplies now while you can still negotiate the aisles and find a bargain or two. Wait too much longer and you'll be frustrated by the crowds and the prices.

Before we go shopping, I like to go over each item on the school supply list with my children to see what we have and what we need to buy. I might think we have something covered until my children explain that a certain item didn't work well or was difficult to use. For example, my son will be taking geometry this year. He'll need a compass and a protractor. I knew we had those in a desk drawer, but when I pulled them out, he said, "Well, Mom, those were OK for sixth grade, but I think I need some better ones for ninth."

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Oh. OK. I remember a compass I used occasionally for math problems and in art class. It would slip and I'd have to start all over. Frustrating. After he shared similar experiences, I added a new one to our shopping list. I was glad I took the time to talk to him about what he needed.

At the end of each school year, my kids bring home everything and we go through it together. Sometimes we can reuse items from a previous year. Some of the binders we used last year are still in good condition, so I think we'll be able to get another year out of them. However, I told my son it was OK to pitch the binder that was being held together with duct tape.

I cringed the last week of school as I witnessed students emptying their lockers into trash bags. Wasn't there anything that could be salvaged? Some of those students probably didn't want to go through everything. They were happy that school was over. They didn't want to think about what they would need come fall.

Sometimes it's a matter of wanting something new. While my daughter saved her pocket folders from fourth grade, she told me they just wouldn't do now that she was in FIFTH grade. Apparently, grown-up girls are looking for something different. Hopefully we'll be able to find it.

Once we gather all the required items, we can start thinking about other ways to prepare for school.

Fall sports: We've been trying to keep in shape so those first practices aren't so difficult. I find that if I work out, my kids will exercise, too.

Sleep: While we allow a little leeway on bedtime in the summer, our children know that we expect them to sleep when we sleep and be awake when we're awake. No sleeping to noon and staying up to the wee hours of the morning. Their semi-relaxed schedule will need to be adjusted just a tad when school starts. It will be a lot easier that way, rather than having to make a major change.

Communication: I remind my children often that I don't expect them to be perfect, but I do expect them to be honest. This is especially important as they get older and the school years get busier. I want them to know that they can talk to me about anything and that I will listen. Come to think of it, having a listening parent more than prepares a child for school. The confidence they gain from knowing what they say matters prepares them for life.

Lisa Tedrick Prejean writes a weekly column for The Herald-Mail's Family page.

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