2019 Back to School Guide


5 Tips For A Good Year Ahead

By Emily Remaklus

New backpacks full of school supplies are ready to go, the first day of school outfit is picked out, and open house is just around the corner. It’s great to start off the year strong, but how can you help ensure that your child is successful throughout the entire school year? As a teacher myself, I’m hoping these five pieces of advice will help lead your family to a great year!

1. Get to know the teacher. Teaching is a group effort, and teachers love to know that you’re onboard. Most schools have open houses at the beginning of the year where parents are able to bring their children to meet the teacher(s) and see their classroom. This is a great way for kids to get comfortable in the new space, and for you to introduce yourself. If you can’t make open house, don’t worry! Many teachers send home contact information during the first week. Send an email or give the teacher a call during the first weeks of school to introduce yourself. Be sure to include some information about your child too. What are their interests? Where have they struggled academically in the past? This not only begins a dialogue and good relationship between you and the teacher, but it also allows the teacher to have some insight into your child’s individual needs.

2. Communicate. Communication is key to building a relationship. Many teachers now are using apps to stay in contact. I use an app called REMIND which sends text message reminders to parents and students about projects, tests, and papers. These apps are a great way for parents to know what’s going on, but if you have individual concerns about your child its best to send an email or make a call. I find emailing to be the best form of communication because I’m teaching throughout the day and it can be difficult to take parents’ calls. Teachers love when parents are invested in their child’s education, but do keep in mind that, depending on their grade level, a teacher may teach 25-125 students, so try to ask your child first about that missing homework assignment or bad grade on a test before contacting the teacher right away. Also, take advantage of conferences. If you can’t make the designated conference times, see if you can schedule one that would work for you.

3. Keep your child’s teacher informed. It’s amazing how quickly a child’s behavior can change due to circumstances happening outside of school. Keeping your child’s teacher informed on changes at home — divorce, death in the family, birth of a new sibling — can help the teacher better understand how to help your child. If the teacher knows that there is a change in the student’s life, then we can be more understanding and forgiving if the student struggles more in school during that time. Teachers are also great listeners, and we can help the child through the transition.

4. Volunteer. For younger grades, parent volunteers are essential and a huge help. Taking 25 students on a field trip or hosting a holiday classroom party can be difficult for one teacher, so your help as a volunteer can make a huge difference. Older grades don’t need parent volunteers quite as often, but as kids grow up they get more involved in clubs and organizations that require fundraising. Allowing and encouraging your child to participate in those fundraising events takes a lot of stress off the teacher adviser for that organization. Plus it’s a great way for your child to learn new skills.

5. Loosen the reins. As your child gets older, start to let them advocate for themselves. As important as communication is between you and your child’s teacher, it is equally as important, if not more important, for your child to communicate their concerns to their teacher. When you notice a problem with a grade, or you want to know how your child can pick their grades up, have your child ask the teacher first. This helps them gain more independence and it shows that their education is also their responsibility. Teaching is a team effort, not just between a parent and teacher, but also between the student and teacher.


Get A Head Start On College

Area teens take College Credit Plus courses
By Lisa Crawford

As college tuition costs continuing to soar, the College Credit Plus (CCP) program helps local teens to get a no cost head start on college coursework.

The Ohio Department of Education has offered CCP since 2015 for public school students who plan to attend a public Ohio university. Eligible students can begin the CCP program as early as 7th grade.

Locations and eligibility

After taking an assessment exam which determines eligibility for the program, a student may choose to physically travel to classes (transportation is not provided), take an online course or do their coursework (Advanced Placement or AP classes) at the public middle school or high school where they regularly attend. Cooperating institutions for area students include Bowling Green State University, the University of Findlay, Owens Community College, Rhodes State College and Tiffin University.

Eligibility requirements and specifics of College Credit Plus include a number of details, but a helpful tool for understanding the system is available on the Findlay City Schools’ website at http://fhs.findlaycityschools.org/ccp/CCP_Presentation_2019-2020.pdf. Many County schools also have information available on their individual websites and from their school guidance counselors. Cory-Rawson High School guidance counselor Melissa McFarland reports that 22 students are enrolled to take advantage of CCP during the 2019-2020 school year.

Doubling down during senior year

Faith Dearwester and her twin brother, Patrick, graduated from Cory-Rawson in May 2019. Both added CCP to their senior year experience. Faith took classes at Rhodes State Community College and Patrick at Bowling Green State University. “It was an easy way to get general education courses out of the way so I can be more major-focused once (I begin taking classes at) college,” Faith said.

Patrick shared: “CCP conditioned me for the higher learning community. Before, I was skeptical about how I would handle the collegiate workload, but now I am confident in my abilities to tackle the next level.”

Both Faith and Patrick mentioned the financial benefits of CCP. While there may be small costs, such as a student i.d., gasoline or a parking permit, the coursework costs are covered. Patrick said, “I would’ve cheated myself if I had passed up this opportunity. It was one of the best decisions of my senior year and I recommend it to every college bound student.”

The Dearwester siblings will attend college this fall. Patrick, now familiar with the BGSU campus, will pursue an English education degree, and Faith will work as a STNA (State Tested Nurses Aid) while taking additional courses to receive her nursing degree from Rhodes State in Lima.

kindergarten students

Simplify and De-stress

Tips for back-to-school mornings
By Sarah Lyons

School mornings can be stressful for both parents and kids, with limited time to eat breakfast, get dressed, gather belongings and get to school on time. Here are some ideas for families to lower the stress and create a smoother school morning routine.

Lunch solution

Packing a healthy school lunch (or multiple lunches) can take up a lot of time in the morning. Get a head start on lunch preparations by starting the evening before. “If my kitchen is clean, I feel like I am ahead of the game. Every night before going to bed I prep lunches for the next day, put away clean dishes, and reload the dishwasher.” says Kim Burnette, mother of two. Getting a head start the night before eliminates a big step, leaving you time for other things in the morning.

Backpack solution

After the kids have completed their homework, have them pack their backpacks up. Parents can sign permission slips, go through school papers, and gather any supplies needed for school the next day and pack them up. Does your child have their gym uniform and band instrument? When everything is ready the night before, there is less to do on school mornings.

Wardrobe solution

Check the weather the evening before so that kids can lay out their clothing and outerwear for the next day. With the coats, hats, gloves and boots laid out there is less scramble to find everything the next morning. Also try laying out the entire week’s clothing on Sunday. “We have a small plastic set of drawers with 5 drawers that can be purchased in the storage section at home goods stores. We put an outfit for both of the kids in each on Sunday.” says Alicia Dafferner, mother of two.

Prep yourself

Many parents find that if they can wake up before the kids, they feel more refreshed and prepared for a productive morning. This gives them the time to take a few minutes to wake up, enjoy a cup of coffee, or grab a quick shower. Mother of three, Jessi Cole, says “I find that it helps if I get up early and get myself ready before my kids get up. That way, I only have to worry about them.”

Breakfast solution

Help make breakfast healthier and quicker by planning ahead. Sherry Hoffman, mom of two boys, says “I make several breakfast options that are freezer and toaster oven friendly on the weekends that we can choose from throughout the week.” Ideas for freezer-friendly breakfast items include breakfast burritos, waffles, french toast, or muffins. There are also easy to make options like whole grain cereal, yogurt with fruit and granola, or a breakfast smoothie. Many of these items can be prepared the night before to help morning go smoother.

Early to bed, early to rise

“I have noticed that it makes our mornings much smoother if my kids get enough sleep, so early bedtimes are a must.” says Hoffman. Kids who have a consistent early bedtime are more rested for an early wake up. Rested kids are in better moods and stay on task on school mornings, causing less stress and conflict in the morning.

Eliminate electronics

With limited time to prepare for school, it is best to eliminate electronic distractions. Parents and kids need to focus on the goal, which is getting to school on time. Distractions like television, handheld devices and video games only slow down the process. Remind kids that there will be time for electronics after school, when their chores and homework are complete.

Adjusting to a new school schedule can take awhile, but if parents do their best to prepare the night before and teach kids to do the same, the mornings will run much smoother.

Sarah Lyons has the task of getting her six children to school in the morning. Planning and preparation help her household run smoothly.

Justin Feldkamp & Molly

Dear Daughter

A note to my little girl as she prepares for kindergarten
By Justin Feldkamp

Dear Molly,

You’re about to begin kindergarten. I know you’re ready and I know you’re excited and I know you might be afraid. It’s a new school with new teachers and you don’t know who your classmates are going to be. It can be scary. It’s okay to be afraid but it’s also okay to try something new. I can’t wait to walk with you to the bus stop and see you off as you begin the next chapter in your young life.

Your smile melts my heart. Your vocabulary astounds me. Your expressions amaze me. Your artwork makes me think you’re a nine-year-old. Your speed on the base paths impresses me and your kindness fills our home. You love your baby dolls and take care of them so well. You clean your room and always want to make things look nice for others to see. You are certainly a wonderful, soon-to-be six year old girl at home. Don’t let others be afraid to see this wonderful girl at school, too.

Even when mom and dad aren’t around, we hope you remember the things we’ve taught you and talked about at home. We want you to be kind to others. Help your classmates and help your teacher by cooperating and listening. Always remember to say please and thank you. You can ask your teacher questions. If you don’t know how to do something, don’t be afraid to raise your hand and ask someone for help. Sometimes juice boxes or milk cartons can be tricky to open. Ask for help.

There will be bigger kids on the school bus who can show you the way but always listen to the bus driver in order to stay safe. If someone makes fun of you for your smaller size, do not worry. Just tell them, “People come in all shapes and sizes.” Everyone deserves respect and it’s never the wrong time
to do the right thing.

You’re going to do great in kindergarten and no matter what, you’ll always be my little girl.


(Note: Justin is the husband of Toledo Area Parent editor Kimberly Feldkamp.)


Super Food Snacks

Picking Foods That Fuel The Mind And Body
By Laurie Wurth-Pressel

Some foods are packed with so many vitamins, minerals and antioxidants that nutrition experts have dubbed them “Super Foods.” Be sure to include these powerful and delicious snacks in your child’s lunchbox this school year.

Blueberries. They rank highest among all fruits for antioxidant activity. Try mixing them in yogurt if your child doesn’t like eating them plain.

Yogurt. This dairy product offers an excellent source of protein and calcium, as well as good bacteria for gut health. Some yogurt brands marketed toward kids contain a lot of sugar, however, so choose wisely.

Hard-boiled eggs. Purchase omega-3 eggs that contain higher amounts of fatty acids proven to benefit skin, allergies and brain function.

Avocado. This heart-healthy food contains monounsaturated fats and more than a dozen vitamins and minerals. Make a guacamole dip and serve with chips.

Carrots. Packed with carotene, carrots are excellent for eye health, reducing inflammation and boosting immunity. Serve with a side of ranch dip or shred into salads.

Corn. This vegetable contains thiamin, which is essential for energy production. Try sprinkling sweet corn on a salad.

Purple grapes. This tasty snack may be the reason why the French enjoy excellent health. Look for deep purple grapes which contain more flavonoid— a powerful antioxidant.

Bananas. A rich source of potassium, bananas can help build strong bones. Your child may love them dipped in a low-fat chocolate sauce and then frozen for the lunch box.

Oranges/tangerines. Rich in vitamin C, orange slices are a perfect choice during cold/flu season.

Watermelon. This juicy fruit will help your child stay hydrated and it’s loaded with vitamins A and C.

Girls in kindergarten

Kicking Off Kindergarten

Help Your Kindergartener Score A Smoother Transition Into School
by Christa Melnyk Hines

For many parents, kindergarten signals an important transition from the all-consuming baby and toddler years. Suddenly, your “baby” is expected to make more choices on her own, stay focused over a longer period of time, learn new skills and navigate a social circle with less oversight from you. Plan ahead to pave the road to a happier kindergarten transition for all.

Visit the school. Before school begins, attend school orientations and meet the teacher to help your child grow familiar with his new learning environment.

Calm kindergarten jitters. Build excitement and optimism for school. Shop together for a new backpack or lunchbox, school supplies and new clothes. “Even if parents are feeling nervous, they should do their best not to portray that to their child,” says Kathy Weller, a kindergarten teacher. “Be very upbeat about the upcoming new experience.”

Recognize friendly faces. Before school starts, arrange play dates with future classmates. A few familiar faces on the first day may help calm those nervous butterflies.

Read together. Reading to your child teaches valuable listening skills and creates an opportunity to help your child prepare for the kindergarten experience. Check out books like The Night Before Kindergarten by Natasha Wing and Kindergarten Rocks by Katie Davis.

Tackle a few skills. While knowing his colors, the ABCs and how to count to ten will give your child a head start, work on other skills like teaching him to tie his shoes and knowing his full name, phone number and birthday.

Plan transportation. Avoid transportation snafus by sticking to a plan and keeping your child (and the teacher) informed. If your child will ride the bus and is nervous, listen and reassure her. Drive the route ahead of time. Also, seek out a “bus buddy” for your child; that buddy can be a responsible older neighbor child or another bus-riding classmate. On the first day of school, arrive early at the bus stop. Introduce yourself and your child to the driver.

Assure your child that you (or whoever you’ve designated), will be waiting for her when the bus returns after school.

Get good eats and sweet dreams. Make sure your new kindergartener gets plenty of rest and eats healthy meals, which will help him better manage the stress of the transition and stay focused during school. Wake up a little earlier to avoid a rushed first day.

Team up with the teacher. Share insights about your child’s strengths with the teacher to help her understand what motivates and interests your child. “Parents should approach school with the idea that the teacher has their child’s best interest at heart,” says Dr. Holly Schiffrin, an associate professor of psychology at the University of Mary Washington, who specializes in child development and parenting practices. “The parent should convey that they are on the same team as the teacher (even if they have different ideas about how to assist their child).”

Manage adversity. Every child is bound to have a rough day. Encourage her to resolve her own problems and take responsibility for her actions. “Ask your child for her input and perspective, genuinely listen, acknowledge and empathize, and then shift the focus towards reaching solutions as a family and in unison with your teachers and school,” says parent coach Tom Limbert, author of Dad’s Playbook: Wisdom for Fathers from the Greatest Coaches of All Time. “Focus on giving your child the tools, morals and lessons she will need when not in your presence, which now will be more and more often.”

Mark the occasion. Celebrate your child’s first day of school with a special outing after school like a frozen yogurt, dinner out or a playdate at her favorite park. Who knows? You may find that initial celebration turns into an annual first-day-of-school tradition for your family.