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Back to the Books
7/5/2017 8:23:49 AM

It’s that time of year again – Back-to-School! It’s an exciting time of year with mixed emotions – bittersweet nostalgia over the end of summer break, and the excitement and anticipation of the coming school year. The first month or two of school can be a hectic demanding period of transition for both students and parents, as everyone settles into a new routine. Read this special Back-to-School section for tips to make your transition as smooth and stress-free as possible.

Meet the Teachers

School Open House

by Lauren Atterbery Cesar

It’s nearly back to school time and you’ll soon receive notice about the annual School Open House. Open House is a perfect opportunity for you to meet your child’s teachers and administrators and become familiar with school policies and procedures. You may also be able to tour your child’s classrooms and get a feel for the daily routine. Before you go, be prepared in order to make the most of your visit. 

Be on time and bring a notebook. Make every effort to arrive on time so you don’t miss important information and as a courtesy to the teachers. Bring a pen and notebook to record important information you will need all year long. 

Teachers’ email addresses. Most teachers are unable to make phone calls during the day. However, most teachers have a computer on their desk, and can answer emails quickly and easily throughout the day. 

Teachers’ Remind Account Access. Most teachers have Remind Accounts which will text and email information about what is happening in the classroom and at school all year long directly to your phone and email address. It’s simple to sign up and receive updates all year.

Verify that your contact information is up to date. If your information is not in the system, you won’t receive call-outs with important information, and teachers will be unable to contact you regarding your child. 

How often does your child’s teacher update their Blackboard site? Some teachers may rely more heavily on Remind, and only update their Blackboard sites periodically. Some teachers use only Blackboard or other school-approved websites. 

When do school newsletters come out? Often schools send out weekly or monthly newsletters to help you stay informed of school events and student successes. 

How do I access my child’s grades online? Calcasieu Parish public schools utilize a program called A+ Grades, and some private schools use programs like RenWeb to access grades and other information about student progress in real time. This gives you fingertip access to your child’s growth any time you want. 

Visit jcampus.cpsb.org/progress/

Sherri Shetler of Prien Lake Elementary wants parents to know, "With today’s technology, there are numerous ways to stay informed about your student’s academic progress at any time.” When going to your child’s Open House, have all the information you will need to stay up-to-date with your child’s development all year.

Surviving School Fundraisers

by Lauren Atterbery Cesar

No sooner does school start than you get that lime-green fundraiser paper coming home with your student and a handful of school call-outs to let you know it’s that time again — school fundraiser time. From cookie dough and wrapping paper to t-shirts and car washes, raising money for your child’s school can be overwhelming. There are often incentives attached to selling a certain number of items and you may dread telling your little one that, no, they are not going to get that slime-slappy hand and a limited-edition Moana key chain this year because you still haven’t won the lottery. It can feel like a lot of pressure, especially if your child is in a club or sport. Before the helpless feeling of having three children required to become professional door-to-door salesmen sets in, take these steps to feel empowered through the process, and relieve some of the stress of school fundraising.

Decide which fundraiser is right for you.

There will likely be multiple fundraisers for your child’s school throughout the year, so ask up-front what they will be, and what each fundraiser will benefit. Some parents have no problem supporting every single fundraiser, while other parents struggle to make ends meet. If you are somewhere in between, consider the fundraisers carefully. If your child participates in band or cheerleading, you may have required sport or club-specific fundraisers that you want to spend your time and energy on. If not, you may ask which fundraiser specifically benefits purchasing technology or learning materials for students, and make your decision on which one to support accordingly.

Consider tax breaks and transparency.

Public school fundraisers can often be tax-deductible. Many PTA and PTO organizations are set up as non-profit organizations, so remember to get a receipt from the school for your tax credit. Also, sometimes a school uses a third-party vendor for items to sell and gets a percentage of the sales back. If they get 20% back from the sales your child makes, and your child is required to sell $100 worth of items, perhaps you can ask the school if you can simply write them a $20 check. Owen Clanton, principal of F.K. White Middle School explains, "Fundraising through the school is an exceptional way to donate money. It provides a safe, transparent, and secure platform. We are thankful that we have strict guidelines that we abide by when fundraising because it really takes the burden off everyone involved.”

It isn’t always about the money.

There are many parents out there who simply cannot spend the money and don’t feel comfortable asking others to buy things for a school fundraiser. There are always other ways to support your child’s school. Clanton also reminds parents, "If you’re able to, please consider donating your time, talents, and treasures when the schools are asking. Our school comes alive with help from parents and the community, it’s not just about money. It may be picking up trash or rebuilding some benches.  Parents and community are a crucial part of schools.”

Time-Saving Tips for your Morning Routine

by Sylvia Ney

Whether it’s because you’re a night owl, have multiple kids arguing in the house, or your family simply struggles with organization, mornings can be a time of great frustration and strife. If you’re tired of the sun-up frenzy, try these simple tips to help make your morning routine less stressful.

Skip the Snooze Button – It’s tempting to hit the snooze button when the alarm goes off in the morning. You crave those extra few minutes, but scientists claim it does more harm than good. 

The folks at ASAP Science explain that while you might think hitting snooze will give you a chance to finish your natural sleep cycle and wake up feeling rested, that’s not what happens. After you hit snooze and drift off, your brain starts its sleep cycle all over again. When the alarm goes off a second time, you’re likely at an even deeper, earlier part of your sleep cycle, which results in you feeling even worse than you did the first time. 

If you regularly wake up feeling groggy, ASAP Science explains the trouble may be that your alarm is going off at the wrong part of your sleep cycle. Try setting your alarm a few minutes later (or getting up a little earlier) and sticking to a regular sleep schedule to get a nice rhythm going.

Shower Time – Consider taking your shower in the evening before heading to bed. Some doctors claim the heat relaxes you into a deeper and more comfortable sleep. 

If you suffer from night sweats, or just need the shower to wake up in the morning, try speeding up the process with a timer. It’s too tempting to linger in the warm spray. A streamlined process can help you wake up more fully.

Caffeine Injection – If you must have your morning coffee before ANYTHING else can happen, consider a machine with a built-in timer. Prep the machine each night before heading to bed so that you can save time, wake to the smell of your favorite freshly brewed blend, and get that caffeine fix even quicker.

Nightly Routine – If you can spend some time each night choosing your outfit, jewelry, and any needed materials for the next day and have it all set out ready to go, you can eliminate unnecessary searching and indecision in the morning. This goes for both you and the kids.

Everything in its Place – Get organized and create a permanent place for everything you’ll need each day including keys, umbrellas, jackets, purses, wallets, etc. Make it a habit to put things there in the evening so you’ll always know where your necessities are located and you won’t lose valuable time searching for things you need to get out the door.

Even if you are a morning person, a more zen-like routine can have you out the door in a flash with minimal fuss. Everyone can benefit from planning ahead and preparing for whatever the day might bring. Implementing these six tips can help improve the ease of your morning, mind, and mood.

Juggling After-School Activities

by Lauren Atterbery Cesar

All parents want their children to be well-rounded little people who are involved in after-school sports and activities, and all parents would also like to keep their sanity intact between the hours of 3:05 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. At times, it may feel like you cannot have both. This rings especially true when one child has dance at 3:30 p.m. and at the same time, across town, another child has baseball practice, and a third child must be collected from Chess Club practice around 4:00. However, there are some sanity-saving tips that will allow you to show your face at church on Sunday without the shame of knowing you may or may not have cut the priest off in traffic one too many times on your way to gymnastics. 

Make a family calendar. Once a week, hold a family meeting and have each member let you know where they need to be that week and write it on the family calendar. Place the calendar where everyone can see it.  Planning ahead will help you avoid disaster. If you have children who have access to electronic devices, make use of Google Calendar or a calendar that you can all share and see at any given time.

Rely on others. There are going to be times when, as much as you would like to, you simply cannot be in two places at once. Other parents feel your pain. Make arrangements with another trusted parent who has a child in the same activity as yours and carpool. It may work out that they can drop the kiddos off if you can pick them up. If you have a partner who can share some of the burden of dropping off or picking up, speak up and let them know you need their help. You might also be fortunate enough to have family members locally who can lend a hand when things get tough.  

Reassess your child’s interest and have an honest conversation. You might be struggling every week to make sure Amanda gets to softball practice, while in reality, Amanda hasn’t enjoyed playing softball in two years. Talk to your children about their changing interests and plan accordingly. Be honest with your child if you’re struggling to get them to three different sports and a club all in the same season. It may be time for them to make choices about what they are most interested in, which can open a great discussion about priorities. 

Plan Your Meals Ahead. One of the hardest parts of after-school activities is coming home and cooking a healthy dinner. It can be so tempting to run through the drive-through after a late practice or game, but this doesn’t do your health or budget any favors. Freeze crock-pot meals ahead of time and prepare them in the mornings, or plan simple things that can be cooked quickly when you get home from activities. 

Follow these tips to make juggling after-school activities more manageable, and be assured, your children may not remember every practice or every club meeting, but they will remember how you made sacrifices which allowed them to participate. 

Back-to-School Vaccinations

Protecting Our Children from Diseases

by Angie Kay Dilmore

You’ve bought their school supplies and uniforms, started re-establishing a bedtime routine, and packed the pantry with lunchbox staples. Anything left on your back-to-school to-do list? Possibly. Children entering Pre-school and 6th grade require proof of current vaccinations to be admitted to school.

For children entering pre-school, Louisiana law requires two doses of MMR, three doses of Hepatitis B, two of Varicella, and booster doses of DTaP and Polio vaccines on or after the 4th birthday and prior to school entry. According to the Center for Disease Control, Louisiana had a 96.8% vaccination rate for kindergarten children in 2016, among the states with the highest vaccination rates in the country. (High five, Louisiana!)

Dr. Albert Richert, pediatrician at The Pediatric Center, Lake Charles, says most children get their immunizations as part of their routine well child visits starting at age two months. "Immunizations are usually given at the two, four, six, twelve, and eighteen months visits. The next set of immunizations is given at four years of age. So people who follow the recommended schedule have everything they need for school by that four year visit.”

Sixth graders (11-12 years of age) are required one Tdap, two VAR, two MMR, three HBV, and one MCV. Dr. Richert says a child that is up to date will have already had all but meningitis (MCV) and a tetanus booster (Tdap). Usually, children need proof of a tetanus shot in order to play sports and other activities.

Pediatricians rarely see children with illnesses such as polio, diphtheria, and measles these days. "Serious infectious diseases in children are dramatically less common than any other time in history, and it is because of vaccines,” says Dr. Richert. "Now pediatricians are able to focus on things like preventive care, developmental problems, and chronic conditions such as asthma and allergies.”

Providing a child with vaccines is not only about protecting that child from particular illnesses. According to Dr. Richert, sometimes the primary benefit of a vaccine is to protect others. For example, protection against Rubella is included in the MMR vaccine. When Rubella was a common childhood infection, it was almost always a very mild infection from which a child would recover in a matter of days. However, if a pregnant woman contracted Rubella, the effects on the developing fetus could be catastrophic. Many cases led to miscarriage or stillbirth. Babies who survived might suffer from hearing loss, heart defects, or eye cataracts. "Since the introduction of the vaccine, children are no longer getting this disease and spreading it to pregnant woman, and the rate of birth defects due to Rubella is currently very low,” adds Dr. Richert.

Vaccination is one of the best ways parents can protect their children from potentially harmful, even life-threatening diseases. Though not required, Dr. Richert also recommends yearly flu shots for school age children.

Vaccination Glossary

MMR measles, mumps, and rubella

DTaP diphtheria, tetanus, and whooping cough (pertussis)

Tdap a booster of the above vaccine

VAR varicella, aka chickenpox

HBV hepatitis B

MCV meningococcal diseases

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